October 25, 2020: Roundup & Myth Busting
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Table of Contents
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!
COVID-19 Cases Surging in Michigan
The number of COVID-19 cases in Michigan has risen sharply: On Saturday, over 3,000 new cases were reported, nearly double the prior record for the number of new cases in a single day in the state. As of today, Michigan has over 175,000 cases and over 7,500 deaths. COVID-19 cases were on the rise in nearly all parts of the state (70 out of 83 counties). Michigan’s case fatality rate, which represents disease severity, currently stands at 4.5%. Speaking on Wednesday, Governor Whitmer said "our numbers are not good...that is why we are sounding the alarm today," and cautioned against a "herd immunity" approach, recently espoused by Michigan Senate Minority Leader Mike Shirkey, which has been widely condemned by experts.
Hospitalizations are also surging, and Sparrow Health System in Lansing reported that they are back up to the levels seen in April for COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The Upper Peninsula, despite its low population (3% of the state), now has over 10% of new COVID-19 cases in the state, and many of the recent outbreaks there have been tied to religious gatherings.
The Washtenaw County Health Department issued a stay in place order for University of Michigan undergraduates earlier this week, which will remain in effect until the morning of November 3rd. Over 60% of COVID-19 cases in the county are UofM students, and the number is on the rise. "Under the newly issued stay in place order, undergraduate students must remain in their residence, unless attending class, accessing dining services, or carrying out approved work that cannot be done remotely. Students who wish to return to a primary residence may do so only if they have completed the U-M’s procedures for leaving campus safely." The order was updated to "clarify that students can leave their residence to vote/attend election-related activities & to access essential technology at U-M designated study areas that provide for single person study spaces." The order does not apply to varsity sports, meaning that football will continue to be played, placing public health at risk for questionable reasons.
"Gov. Whitmer sounds the alarm on rising COVID-19 cases in Michigan"
"Michigan reports a record 3,338 new coronavirus cases in one day"
"Michigan’s 1,670 coronavirus cases per day sets new pandemic high"
"Monday, Oct. 19, coronavirus data by Michigan county: 70 of 83 counties are trending up"
"Ingham County health officer: Sparrow Health System hospitalizations are back up to April levels"
"U. Of Michigan Students Under Stay-In-Place Order, But Football Can Still Kick Off"
"WCHD Issues Public Health Emergency Stay in Place Order for U-M Students"
"Washtenaw County Health Department updates U-M undergrad stay-in-place order"
Boo to You! COVID-19 Guide to Celebrating Halloween Safely
What do COVID-19 and vampires have in common? They can be a real pain in the neck! Halloween is a holiday celebrated by many as a way to kick off the fall season, connect with loved ones and neighbors, and, for some, find an excuse to consume lots of candy. COVID-19 has sucked the fun out of most of our activities this year, but it doesn’t mean we still can’t celebrate Halloween safely.
Consider Safer Alternatives
Getting crafty with Halloween projects with members of your household such as carving and decorating pumpkins
Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
Watching a spooky movie with people you live with or have an internet watch party
Visiting an orchard, forest, or corn maze
Pass out candy, not COVID-19
Give out treats outdoors, if possible
Set up a station with individually bagged treats, or pass out treats using a stick or other setup that maintains physical distance
Use duct tape, chalk, or other markings to mark 6 feet lines
Wear a cloth mask
Protect the little ghouls
Share with your children that this year may be different than last, but let them know some of the new ways you plan to celebrate and still have lots of fun
Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask if wearing both causes difficulty breathing. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask that covers the mouth and nose
Walk from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
Trick-or-treat in one direction and avoid large gatherings
As always, remember to always wear a cloth mask, wash hands often, and stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.
Surfaces May Be Low-Risk
Although SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been found to remain active on surfaces for up to a month, many experts do not believe that there is a significant risk of surface transmission from groceries, mail, or many other common surfaces. Research into COVID-19 surface transmission has primarily focused on how long the virus can remain infectious under highly controlled experimental conditions, which does not reflect real-world risk. Surfaces in crowded public places are still considered to be high-risk, due to the amount and frequency of contact. Most experts agree that these surfaces do require frequent cleaning and recommend that people should avoid contact with them, wash their hands after touching them, and avoid touching their faces. Doorknobs, faucets, and other high-touch surfaces may also be higher-risk, and should be frequently cleaned. Other, less-touched surfaces, such as groceries and mail, may be low-risk, and for most people, it may not be worth spending the effort to sanitize them. Simply put, the amount of viral particles that survive on those surfaces is likely to be too low to cause infections in most people. Washing your hands after touching surfaces that may be contaminated and avoiding touching your face may be sufficient for most people. People at higher risk, including those with weaker immune systems, may still want to continue sanitizing even low-risk surfaces if they are able to do so: “Low-risk” does not mean “no risk.”
"Stop wiping down groceries and focus on bigger risks, say experts on coronavirus transmission"
"It’s Time to Talk About Covid-19 and Surfaces Again"
FDA Approves First Treatment for COVID-19: Remdesivir
On October 22, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they had approved the first drug for the treatment of COVID-19: Remdesivir, also known as Veklury. Remdesivir was originally given emergency authorization for use in COVID-19 treatment back in May, and thus the drug has been able to clear other regulatory and safety measures before being formally approved.
Remdesivir’s approval was based on three strongly designed clinical trials. In the first clinical trial, Remdesivir was shown to reduce the time to recover compared to the standard of care. Recovery was defined as being discharged from the hospital or being hospitalized but no longer needing supplemental oxygen. In the second clinical trial, the group who had received a 5-day course of Remdesivir had a higher odds of COVID-19 symptoms improvement on Day 11 compared to those who did not receive Remdesivir. In the third clinical trial, it was demonstrated that there was no difference in outcomes in those who received a 5-day course of Remdesivir compared to those on a 10-day course.
It is important to note that this is for the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms and that it has not been shown to be a cure or for prevention, and has not been shown to prevent deaths. Patients in all of these studies were given standard treatments alongside Remdesivir as well, and the variation in groups in the trials was isolated to whether they received Remdesivir or not. While an approved treatment in the US is promising, many factors can play into how likely somebody is to survive a COVID-19 infection, such as when they begin treatment, whether they have pre-existing conditions, etc. Also, there are still the long-term, irreversible effects of COVID-19 that many have had to and will continue to face. In addition, a recent trial sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) recently showed that Remdesivir failed to prevent COVID-19 deaths. Many scientists, however, have noted that based on the data collection of this study, conclusions are not definitive.
Progress is being made in the treatment front of managing COVID-19, however continuing to follow public health guidelines such as wearing masks, washing hands, and staying at least 6-feet apart is how we will best protect each other and ourselves.
Thanksgiving in the Time of COVID-19
Along with Halloween, Thanksgiving is also fast approaching! While the pandemic continues, it is important to rethink how to go about these holidays. It is clear that the safest thing to do would be to continue to social distance and to stay home, however, there are some tips and guidelines to consider if you do partake in a gathering with family or friends:
Before a Holiday Gathering:
Plan to partake in outdoor-only activities, if possible
Check local guidelines on COVID-19 where you’ll be
Be aware if you are coming from or going to an area with a lot of COVID-19 cases
Limit the number of attendees as much as possible
Prepare to bring extra masks and hand sanitizer for yourself and others
If possible, strictly isolate for 14 days prior to gathering
Consider getting tested for COVID-19
Get your flu shot!
Travel by car instead of plane or bus, if possible, to minimize exposure to others. If driving, your greatest risk of exposure is during stops, so make sure you continuing to distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands when doing so.
During a Holiday Gathering:
Maintain physical distance to the extent possible and limit close contact
Be aware of commonly touched surfaces, minimize contact with them, clean them frequently, and wash your hands after touching them
Keep safe around food and drinks, and use single-serving options
After a Holiday Gathering:
Stay home and isolate for 14 days, if possible
Avoid being around others, especially those who may be most vulnerable (you may have brought COVID-19 back with you!)
Consider getting tested for COVID-19
Consider Safer Alternatives to Gatherings:
Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
Having a virtual dinner or hang-out, where you can hear and/or see people you would normally be physically present with
Sharing recipes with friends and family
Shopping online, rather than in person, on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home
Avoid the Following:
Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving (stores are often more crowded around holidays)
Participating in or being a spectator at a crowded race, parade, or other activity
Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
Attending gatherings with people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and don’t know it
Attending gatherings with people who are not practicing safe behaviors with respect to COVID-19
Again, staying at home would be the safest option, but there are definitely ways to still celebrate responsibly!
Domestic Violence Programs Face Backlash from Police for Supporting Black Lives Matter
Law enforcement agencies in rural Wisconsin reportedly stopped referring survivors to a domestic violence shelter after it put up a Black Lives Matter sign. The shelter, Embrace, also lost significant funding and other community partnerships. Similar stories have come from organizations serving sexual assault and domestic violence survivors Idaho, Nebraska, and other states. Law enforcement and community members who have spoken out against the groups have indicated that they are opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement because they believe it is an anti-police movement and they are against any group that is allied with such a movement. The actions put survivors at risk by making it more difficult for them to access critical resources, and survivors of color are at particular risk, as anti-racist work is critical to building trust and providing services equitably.
"Police Are Cutting Ties With Domestic Violence Programs That Support Black Lives Matter"
"A domestic violence shelter put up Black Lives Matter signs, and law enforcement revolted"
Cleaning and Disinfecting for COVID-19
Disinfecting surfaces is an important step to minimizing exposure. It can also be very confusing when we hear chemical names used interchangeably with product names. We have had several conversations with members of our QM community regarding disinfection practices being circulated and have compiled some information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Overall, we should think about cleaning and disinfection practices in two different ways: 1. Practices at home and 2. Practices at places of business or where groups gather. The guidance for how you clean and disinfect your home differs from the practices and protocols an organization or business should implement when operating.
Follow this link if you have any kind of business or organization that has a physical space where people work or gather to learn how to regularly clean and disinfect your space: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html
Cleaning with Bleach (sodium hypochlorite/chemical formula NaOCl):
If you do not have store-bought bleach-based cleaning products, diluted household bleach solutions can be used to disinfect surfaces. So long as the bleach has not passed itsexpiration date, it will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
Use bleach containing 5.25%-8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do not use a bleach product if the percentage is not in this range or is not specified.
Follow the manufacturer’s application instructions for the surface, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute.
Ensure proper ventilation during and after application.
Check to ensure that the product is not past its expiration date.
Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaning agent. This can cause fumes that may be dangerous or deadly to breathe in.
Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) of 5.25%-8.25% bleach per gallon of room-temperature water OR
4 teaspoons of 5.25%-8.25% bleach per quart of room-temperature water
Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection for up to 24 hours from the time they are mixed
Commonly used products reported to disinfect SARS-COV-2:
Taken from the EPA tool at https://cfpub.epa.gov/giwiz/disinfectants/index.cfm. Disclaimer: we are not advertising these products, but are instead sharing commonly used items approved by the EPA.
Scrubbing Bubbles® Multi-Purpose Disinfectant, 5 minute contact time (how long the surface should remain wet with the cleaner), on nonporous surfaces
Scrubbing Bubbles® Disinfectant Bathroom Grime Fighter, 5 minute contact time (how long the surface should remain wet with the cleaner), on nonporous surfaces
Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes (All Scents), 2 minutes contact time (how long the surface should remain wet with the cleaner), on nonporous surfaces
Lysol® Kitchen Pro Antibacterial Cleaner, 2 minutes contact time (how long the surface should remain wet with the cleaner), on nonporous surfaces
Lysol® Brand All Purpose Cleaner, 2 minutes contact time (how long the surface should remain wet with the cleaner), on nonporous surfaces
Lysol® Kitchen Pro Antibacterial Cleaner, 2 minutes contact time (how long the surface should remain wet with the cleaner), on nonporous surfaces
Lysol® Disinfectant Spray, 2 minutes contact time (how long the surface should remain wet with the cleaner), on nonporous surfaces
Pine-Sol®, 10 minutes contact time (how long the surface should remain wet with the cleaner), on nonporous surfaces
NOTE: The EPA tool can be confusing: If something doesn’t make sense, reach out. Most helpful headings include active ingredients, product name, pathogen covered, contact time, surface type, and use setting. Products listed as “Healthcare” use are not necessary for your home to be disinfected appropriately.
6 Steps for Safe & Effective Disinfectant Use (from the EPA):
Check that your product is EPA-approved. Find the EPA registration number on the product. Then, check to see if it is on EPA’s list of approved disinfectants at: epa.gov/listn
Read the directions. Follow the product’s directions. Check “use sites” and “surface types” to see where you can use the product. Read the “precautionary statements.”
Pre-clean the surface. Make sure to wash the surface with soap and water if the directions mention pre-cleaning or if the surface is visibly dirty.
Follow the contact time. You can find the contact time in the directions. The surface should remain wet the whole time to ensure the product is effective.
Wear gloves and wash your hands. For disposable gloves, discard them after each cleaning. For reusable gloves, dedicate a pair to disinfecting COVID-19. Wash your hands after removing the gloves.
Lock it up. Keep lids tightly closed and store out of reach of children
Cleaning And Disinfecting Your Home (CDC guidance):
NOTE: Please read product instructions carefully. Cleaning products can be harmful if not used as directed. When cleaning, make sure there is good ventilation (open windows when possible, keep doors open). Use disposable gloves. Do not mix products; this can lead to unintended chemical reactions that can be life-threatening.
U.S. Reaches Nearly 300,000 Excess Deaths
On Tuesday, the CDC released an updated report regarding the “excess deaths” that have occurred so far this year as compared to the same time frame last year. Below are some key summary points from the CDC:
What is already known about this topic?
As of October 15, 216,025 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the United States; however, this might underestimate the total impact of the pandemic on mortality.
What is added by this report?
Overall, an estimated 299,028 excess deaths occurred from late January through October 3, 2020, with 198,081 (66%) excess deaths attributed to COVID-19. The largest percentage increases were seen among adults aged 25–44 years and among Hispanic or Latino persons.
What are the implications for public health practice?
These results inform efforts to prevent mortality directly or indirectly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as efforts to minimize disruptions to health care.
Hitting the 300,000 mark in excess deaths in the U.S. is a difficult landmark to think about, and there are other estimates that put excess deaths at around 400,000 by the end of the year. While there are many factors that contributed to about one-third of the excess deaths, two-thirds were directly attributed to COVID-19, emphasizing the impact COVID-19 has had thus far. With cases, hospitalizations, and deaths rising significantly again, it is more important than ever to do what we can by wearing masks, social distancing, and following public health guidelines to curb the pandemic and protect each other.
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