Intro and Disclaimer

QM would like to help you make sense of information being circulated by: 1. Translating data into digestible language, 2. Dispelling misconceptions and linking to evidence, and 3. Curating relevant data, and articles on a weekly basis. Our Round Up/ Mythbusting projects are intended to help our QM family make sense of information being circulated. Taking control of our health as a queer community includes making institutional knowledge accessible to the public.

Disclaimer: Although this information has been evaluated and determined to be accurate by Queering Medicine (QM), we at QM do not want to give the impression that we are the sole gatekeepers of medical knowledge. As a collective, QM members bring professional and personal qualifications that allow us to research and share credible knowledge. Our goals for this weekly round up and myth busting is to translate data into digestible information, dispel misinformation, and curate relevant data for the Lansing queer community. We encourage the community to question knowledge found outside of reputable sources, however, Queering Medicine will gladly help facilitate this process. If evidence or recommendations change, or any inaccuracies are found, we will correct them and explain the changes. If you have any questions about our methodology and sources, or you would like to point out any inaccuracies, please let us know!

Mask Restrictions, Limits on Gatherings, and Businesses Reinstated in Michigan

After the Michigan Supreme Court struck down Governor Whitmer's Emergency Orders last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services began issuing Emergency Orders that reinstate most aspects of the original restrictions. The new Emergency Orders were issued under a separate legal authority that was not invalidated by the Court ruling, and remain in effect until October 30th.

According to the October 5th MDHHS Emergency Orders:

    • Masks must be worn at indoor and outdoor gatherings ("defined as any occurrence where persons from multiple households are present in a shared space in a group of two or more") and "and requires businesses and government offices to enforce those requirements for gatherings on their premises." Masks are also required to be worn in schools, with the exception of portions of the northern lower peninsula.

    • Indoor gatherings of up to 10 people are only allowed if everyone wears a face covering

    • Indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are only permitted with restrictions (20% of normal seating capacity, 20 persons per 1,000 square feet), and everyone must wear a face covering.

    • Indoor gatherings of more than 500 people are not allowed.

    • Outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people are non-residential venues are permitted only if everyone wears a face covering.

    • Outdoor gatherings of up to 1,000 people are limited to 30% of normal capacity or 30 persons per 1,000 square feet, and everyone must wear a face covering.

    • Bars must "close indoor common areas where people can congregate, dance or otherwise mingle" and "Indoor gatherings are prohibited anywhere alcoholic beverages are sold except for table services where parties are separated from one another by at least six feet."

On October 9th, additional restrictions were added, including:

  • "Businesses cannot admit individuals who do not wear a face covering, and there are few exceptions."

  • Retail stores, libraries, and museums are limited to 50% of normal capacity.

  • Recreational sports and exercise facilities are limited to 25% of normal capacity, and there must be at least six feet between workout stations.

  • Food service establishments are limited to 50% of normal capacity.

  • Restaurants and bars "may only serve alcohol to parties who are seated, six feet apart, and remain separate"

  • "Organized sports require face coverings and have gathering limits."

Face covering rules do not apply to children under 5 years old, people who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, people "eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment," those meeting certain criteria while exercising, and several other circumstances.

Additional orders specific to schools, juvenile justice, and residential care have also been issued by MDHHS.

Locally, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail issued four emergency orders on October 4th requiring face coverings, limiting indoor and outdoor gathering sizes, limiting restaurant capacity, and requiring employee health screening.

More information:

CDC Acknowledges Potential Airborne Transmission of COVID-19 Virus

What happened?

About two weeks ago, Queering Medicine reported on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posting and then quickly retracting information on the aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This retraction was controversial and potentially harmful because it gives the public the impression that indoor activities are not high risk. Aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is still being investigated and there is no clear consensus on the topic. Airborne (or “aerosol”) transmission occurs with particles smaller than droplets, which can move greater distances (i.e., more than 6 feet) and can remain in the air for longer (i.e., hours, instead of only seconds for droplets). The CDC backtracked on their retraction and updated their COVID-19 pages, and now again includes language that acknowledges the potential airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Although it is good that the CDC decided to publish guidance that reflects our current scientific understanding of the virus, it is detrimental to public trust to see a reputable source of health knowledge flip-flop on their health guidance for apparently political reasons. It highlights the importance of our health initiative to challenge sources and report on what we do know. For more information on the CDC retraction, see our round-up from September 27th.

What do we know?

    • SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted mainly through respiratory droplets carrying the infectious virus.

    • Although rare, transmission can occur in enclosed spaces, prolonged exposure to respiratory particles, and inadequate ventilation or air handling suggesting an airborne component in its mode of transmission.

    • For more information on airborne/aerosol vs. droplet transmission, see our round-up from June 28th.

What does it mean for folks?

  • The COVID-19 mantra still rings true: mask up (indoors and outdoors) around others you don’t live with, wash your hands, and keep at least 6 feet away from others.

  • Avoid sharing indoor space with people you don’t live with, and don’t treat 6 feet as “safe” (indoors or outdoors).

  • Asymptomatic transmission is still a thing. Stay vigilant at protecting yourself and others. For more information on asymptomatic transmission, see our round-up from June 14th.

More Information:

White House Blocks New FDA COVID-19 Vaccine Guidelines

After the FDA proposed new guidelines with regards to safety standards for COVID-19 vaccine makers last week, White House officials blocked the guidelines from going into effect. This was expected, in line with President Trump’s remarks when the FDA first proposed these changes. The guidelines were meant to add restore safety standards to an already expedited vaccine development process to ensure, of particular note, requiring follow up with those participating in vaccine trials for an additional 2 months after their final dose to check and make sure the vaccine is safe and effective.

It has been continuously clear that President Trump and his administration are trying to push for a vaccine prior to Election Day (November 3rd), a timeline that he has repeatedly stated, while all respected health agencies, researchers, scientists have maintained that this would not be feasible. These revised guidelines prioritize safety, and officials at the FDA have stated that they are trying to find other ways to get these guidelines approved. Some COVID-19 vaccine developers such as Johnson & Johnson have indicated that they would follow the FDA’s revised guidelines, regardless of White House’s approval. With public trust being an incredibly important factor for a vaccine roll-out, responses from the White House such as this will only continue to claw away at the public’s trust if and when a vaccine becomes available.

More information:

Survey Shows LGBTQ+ Youth Don't Trust Police

A survey from the Trevor Project and Morning Consult of youth aged 13-24 found that most LGBTQ+ youth do not support the police, and do support Black Lives Matter. Black LGBTQ+ youth and trans and/or nonbinary youth report the lowest levels of police support and highest levels of police harassment/mistreatment. Black LGBTQ+ youth and trans and/or nonbinary youth are more likely to report that the LGBTQ community is not supportive of Black LGBTQ people.

"White straight/cis youth are the only demographic to report they trust the police. LGBTQ youth, specifically Black LGBTQ youth and trans and/or nonbinary youth, deeply distrust the police."

"Trans and/or nonbinary youth [29% harassed/mistreated] and Black LGBTQ youth [25% harassed/mistreated] report the highest level of being mistreated by the police. White straight/cis youth are most likely to report they have never been harassed or mistreated in their interactions with the police [11% harassed/mistreated]."

Most white, straight/cis youth believe that police are there to protect them (78% agree), and most LGBTQ youth disagree (52% disagree). Black LGBTQ youth and trans and/or nonbinary youth are most likely to least likely to disagree that police are there to protect them (60% disagree).

White, straight/cis youth are more likely to oppose Black Lives Matter than any other group (19% vs. 5% of LGBTQ youth).

"Black LGBTQ youth are the most likely to report they have participated in protest or demonstration around Black Lives Matter [29%], while white straight/cis youth are the least likely to have joined a protest [8%]"

"While more than half of all LGBTQ youth and straight/cis report recent news reports, images, and videos of violence against Black people in the U.S. have negatively impacted their well being, it disproportionately impacts Black LGBTQ youth with significantly more intensity."

"While a strong majority of LGBTQ youth across demographics feel the LGBTQ community is supportive of Black LGBTQ people, Black LGBTQ youth and trans and/or nonbinary youth are the most likely to report that the community is not supportive (16% each)."

More information

Police Charged with Murder, Other Legal Updates

Police Officer Charged with Murder of Black Man

On Monday, a police officer was charged with murder for fatally shooting Jonathan Price, a 31-year-old Black man in Texas who intervened in a fight at a gas station on October 3rd. The Texas Rangers stated that "The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectionably reasonable." The Price family's lawyer stated that "When police arrived, I'm told, he raised his hands and attempted to explain what was going on...Police fired tasers at him and when his body convulsed from the electrical current, they 'perceived a threat' and shot him to death."

More information:

St. Louis Couple Who Brandished Guns at Protesters Indicted

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who famously brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters walking past their house and were then invited to speak at the Republican National Convention, have been indicted by a grand jury for felony unlawful use of a weapon as well as tampering with evidence.

More information:

More LAPD Officers Charged with Falsifying Gang Data

Three Los Angeles Police Department police officers have been charged with falsifying information, reporting that people admitted to being in a gang when body-cam footage shows the opposite. The new charges are in addition to three other LAPD officers charged for the same offense in July, and 18 other officers are still under investigation. The officers are from the LAPD Metro Division, which was found to be stopping Black drivers at a disproportionate rate in 2019. Critics of the gang database (CalGang) have protested its use, which they say resulted in people being harassed, having more trouble finding housing employment, and impacting immigration status. A review round that CalGang data submitted by LAPD officers was "inconsistent, unreliable and unpredictable," and the state banned law enforcement agencies from using data submitted by LAPD in July.

More information:

COVID-19 Cases On the Rise as Cold Weather Moves In

The onset of cold weather has been a concern for researchers and medical providers in the U.S., Europe, and others in northern latitudes. Many have expressed the likely rise in COVID-19 cases during the winter season. The winter season also means the start of flu (influenza) and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) season. In the last seven days, nine U.S. States have reported an increase in COVID-19 cases. The cold weather is forcing activities indoors and recent decisions to open up all businesses and activities comes with risk.

According to Reuters, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin have the highest new cases per capita in the country. Wisconsin set records for new cases two out of the last three days and reported record numbers of hospitalizations on Saturday, October 3rd. An average 22% of tests are coming back positive, one of the highest rates in the country. Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities run by Aspirus in northern Wisconsin and Michigan are prohibiting most visitors because of the surge in cases in the Midwest, as was done earlier this year.

It is unclear what is driving this current rise; however it is believed fatigue with COVID-19 precautions and students returning to schools and colleges is a primary driving force. Please remember: the pandemic is not over, and wearing a mask is not a political statement - it is a public health safety measure.

We want to remind everyone in our community to get their flu shot.

More information:

According to CovidActNow, Michigan is Considered to “At Risk of Outbreak” Level

As of Friday (October 9th), we are averaging 1,117.6 new COVID-19 cases per in Michigan; we have not seen numbers like this since April, when there were 1,603.1 new cases a day in the state. The highest numbers are being seen in the Upper Peninsula. While Ingham County is not one of the top 5 counties at this time, numbers are rising and moving in the upward direction. The current infection rate of 0.85 in Ingham (vs. 1.10 statewide) is considered “low,” however, numbers over the weekend have moved the infection rate into the “medium” zone, and 14.0 new cases per 100,000 people is considered high for the county. We are seeing a slow uptick in the number of hospitalizations and ICU hospitalizations.

Things to always keep in mind:

  • Wear a mask

  • Wash your hands

  • If you plan to be out in public, have a safety plan

  • Know beforehand what you feel safe doing

  • Remember, although indoor activities are permitted, they are still considered high risk

  • Not all businesses function the same. Be aware of how a place of business is upholding social distancing and safety practices.

  • The pandemic disproportionately impacts Black Latinx people and other marginalized communities. Wearing a mask and social distancing is a form of solidarity.

  • Get your Flu Shot!

  • Reach out if you have questions about the flu shot


Image Credit:

“We Keep Each Other Safe in the Streets By Wearing our Masks” above Black protester holding “Defund Police” sign.
Art by: Monica Trinidad

San Francisco’s Jail Population Decreased Without Jeopardizing Public Safety

Since the beginning of the year, and particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic began, San Francisco’s jail population has decreased by around 40%. Overall crime rates, compared to last year at this time, have also decreased by 20%. San Francisco’s District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, ran on a platform of ending mass incarceration, looking to review why people had been in jail in the first place, and see if, in fact, other resources would better serve people. This is in line with the push to redirect funding from policing and incarceration and put that funding directly into communities. The results so far in San Francisco speak for themselves, and show that there are better ways to decrease crime rates than focusing almost exclusively on punishment and policing. Policing and mass incarceration does not work, and if the funds go towards the proper resources in communities, such as health and human services, people may actually get the help that they need (e.g., resources that can help prevent situations in which people end up breaking the law) rather than be harmed.

People in jails and prisons were identified early on as vulnerable populations where COVID-19 could spread easily. The pandemic was a factor that contributed to having many incarcerated people released, decreasing the chance of transmission in jails and prisons. While the pandemic has been horrible, it has brought to light the systemic oppression and inequities that are built into this country to a much greater extent. In a way, the pandemic expedited this process, and we can only hope that after the pandemic passes that we continue to see progress towards proper and more equitable health for our most vulnerable populations.

More information:

QM Public Health Crisis Round-Up Team (in no particular order):

  • Mauricio Franco (he/him/his), M.S.- Global Medicine, Fourth-year medical student.

  • Andrew-Huy Dang (he/him/his), B.S. Microbiology, Fourth-year medical student

  • Wyatt Shoemaker (he/him/his), Fourth-year medical student.

  • Antonio Flores (he/him/his), Third-year medical student, B.S. Public Health Sciences.

  • Daniel Pfau (they/them/theirs), Neuroscience PhD, Biological Sciences MS, Homeschool Teacher.

  • Francis Yang (he/him/his), M.S.-Global Medicine, Second-year medical student.

  • Kryssia Campos (she/her/hers), Second-year medical student.

  • Alessandra Daskalakis (she/her/hers): Second-year medical student, B.S. Biology, B.A. Comparative Literature

  • Vanessa Burnett (she/her/hers) M.P.H; Health Equity Consultant, Michigan Public Health Institute

  • Wilfredo Flores (he/him/his), fourth-year PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric, M.A. Technical Communication

  • Grey L. Pierce (they/them); M.A., Cognitive Psychology; Assistant Director, Michigan State University (MSU) Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting; Project Manager, State of the State Survey, MSU Institute for Public Policy and Social Research