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!

Trump Deceived Americans About Virus Risk

Damning evidence (in the form of his own words) has come to light showing that President Trump knew how deadly COVID-19 was, and deceived the public about it in order to "play it down" for political reasons. Trump, in recorded interviews with Bob Woodward from February and March, said that COVID-19 is five times more deadly than the flu and that young people are vulnerable, while publicly stating the opposite, and telling the country that COVID-19 would disappear on its own and that masks weren't necessary. Trump claimed that "I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic," despite constant attempts to stoke panic against immigrants, Black Lives Matter protesters, Democrats, liberals, and a variety of other targets. Trump's public refusal to take COVID-19 seriously and support masks, social distancing, and other efforts to contain the virus are widely cited as a critical reason why the U.S. has suffered far more than other countries, and with nearly 200,000 Americans dead of the disease and far more with long-term health complications (and those numbers steadily increasing as the country has failed to contain its spread), Trump's actions have sacrificed the lives and well-being of people for short-sighted political gains. Experts have long made clear that letting the virus continue to spread would hurt the economy more than a temporary county-wide shutdown, undermining claims that Trump was saving the economy (and more recently, data from a variety of countries has confirmed this).

At the same time, emails have been released showing that Trump's appointee to the Department of Health and Human Services has been trying to prevent Dr. Fauci from speaking about the risks to children posed by COVID-19 and has also interfered with reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on COVID-19, attempting to downplay the risks of COVID-19 and hide the truth in order to cater to Trump’s messaging.

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Local MSU Students Told to Self-Quarantine

On Saturday, the Ingham County Health Department asked all Michigan State University students on campus to self-quarantine. "Students in quarantine should remain at home for the next two weeks other than to attend in-person instruction, labs, and intercollegiate athletic training. They may also leave their homes to work or to obtain food, medicine, medical care, or supplies that are needed to sustain or protect life when such cannot be obtained via delivery."

The request comes in response to 342 people affiliated with MSU testing positive for COVID-19 in the last three weeks. Self-quarantine should last for 14 days, and while it is not an emergency order, "more stringent and mandatory restrictions will be imposed if students do not comply." “At least a third of new cases recently attended parties or social gatherings, and at least one third of those gatherings are associated with a fraternity or sorority.”

Most undergraduates are not on campus, and are taking classes online, but some "had binding off-campus leases or simply desired to physically return to the university community." Additionally, many graduate and medical students are on campus.

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Black Lives Matter Protests Have Been Peaceful

A recent report from the US Crisis Monitor, a project of the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) at Princeton University looked into violence at Black Lives Matter protests, and found that more than 93% did not involve violence or destructive activity by demonstrators. Of the roughly 2,600 locations that have had protests, over 2,400 have only had peaceful protests. Furthermore, in the locations that have experienced violence, it has often been limited to specific blocks, and not widespread. Reports of police inciting violence through their tactics have come from around the country, further making clear that Black Lives Matter protests are not themselves a source of violence. Despite that, over 40% of respondents to a recent poll believe "most protesters [associated with the BLM movement] are trying to incite violence or destroy property." This view is consistent with White supremacy in undermining peaceful work to bring about racial equity, and can be tied to racist rhetoric from politicians and biased news reporting.


Denver Sending Mental Health Responders to 911 Calls

Denver launched its pilot Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) program in June, which sends a mental health professional and a paramedic to respond to some 911 calls, rather than police. Since its inception, STAR teams have been sent out on over 350 calls, and have yet to call police for backup on a call. The STAR responders are unarmed.

The program currently operates only during the day on weekdays and is only in certain areas of the city, but it is hoped that the program will expand over time. It is being paid for by a local grant, and the city government would likely need to integrate STAR into its budget for it to become permanent.

The pilot is based in part on Denver's "co-responder" program, which sends mental health professionals with police officers on calls where mental health services may be needed. That program has been in operation since 2016, and has expanded from three mental health workers at its outside, to 17 last year, and is in the process of expanding to 25. Last year, mental health professionals helped respond to over two thousand calls in the city.

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Police Brutality in Rochester Sparks Protests, Resignations

In March, police in Rochester, New York detained Daniel Prude, a Black man experiencing a mental health crisis. He was handcuffed naked in the street in the cold, and police put a mesh hood over his head when he said he had COVID-19 and spit. Police then held him down for two minutes, which led to his suffocation. He was resuscitated, but died a week later in the hospital. Mayor Lovely Warren indicated that she had been misled by Chief La'Ron Singletary, and had been told that Daniel had died of a drug overdose. The autopsy report indicated his death was a homicide caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint."

The incident was not reported on until September 2nd, when Daniel's family released police video they had obtained. Protests quickly erupted in response. While protests appeared to be peaceful, police fired gas into the crowd. On September 3rd, the Mayor suspended seven police officers that had been involved in the original incident. On September 8th Chief Singletary announced his retirement, as did Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and Commander Fabian Rivera. Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor stepped down to the rank of lieutenant. On September 11th, the Rochester City Council introduced legislation to stop the development of a new $12.5 million police service center.

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Police Shoot 13-Year-Old Boy with Autism

On September 4th, Golda Barton called police in Salt Lake City to help transport her son, Linden Cameron, a White 13-year-old boy with autism, to a hospital due to a mental health emergency he was experiencing. Police were told that he was unarmed, yet ended up shooting him when he ran from them. In response to the incident, Golda was quoted as saying "He's a small child. Why don't you just tackle him? ... You are big police officers with massive amounts of resources. Come on, give me a break." Neurodiverse Utah issued a statement saying "Police were called because help was needed but instead more harm was done when officers from the SLPD expected a 13-year-old experiencing a mental health episode to act calmer and collected than adult trained officers." An internal investigation is ongoing by the police, and the city's Civilian Review Board is conducting its own investigation. A new policy requiring police to try de-escalation in most cases before responding with force had been signed by the Mayor in August, to take effect September 5th (the day after the shooting).

The incident reinforces what has been seen repeatedly across the country: Most police are not trained, equipped, or prepared to handle mental health crises, and they rely on the use of force (to the extent of shooting people) in situations where it should never be needed.

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Vaccine Trial Paused Due to Adverse Event, Now Resumed

A COVID-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was reportedly paused due to an adverse event noted in one of the trial’s UK participants. The adverse event was reportedly transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord. Disorders of the immune system or infections can cause this, and it is possible that the vaccine, based on a virus, may have triggered this reaction. This is one of the leading trials in COVID-19 vaccine development, currently in Phase 2/3 (i.e., between stages 2 and 3) in the UK and in Phase 3 trials in other countries, including the US, of which it is one of 3 companies with a vaccine trial in the later stages of development and testing. Often, when a participant experiences a negative health outcome while in a clinical trial, the event is reported so that the cause can be determined. The pause may seem unfortunate and worrisome, but is an important and crucial step in any clinical trial. This pause shows that there are still checks in effect and safety measures are still in place, despite political and social pressure to get a vaccine released. This also highlights the importance of following established processes of going through clinical trials. If this event was related to the vaccine, it confirms the importance of testing it on much larger populations as well, usually in Phase 3 of clinical trials, to further look out for safety and efficacy, before releasing it for full public use. On the flip side, a vaccine that does not go through this process, such as the prematurely approved vaccine in Russia, events such as this may be missed until they affect thousands of people, and thus, there is potential to harm others as well as reduce trust in vaccines as a whole.    

As of September 12, 2020, the trial has resumed after getting clearance from governmental bodies, such as the British Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 


Penn State Athletics Doctor Cautions About COVID-Related Heart Disease

Recently, Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Pennsylvania State University Director of Athletic Medicine, commented on the link between COVID-19 and myocarditis. This was in regards to a study conducted on athletes who recovered from COVID-19 infections. The study showed that around 15% of the athletes showed signs of myocarditis, or inflammation of heart muscle that can impact heart function (Dr. Sebastianelli mistakenly cited the figure as 30-35% in earlier interviews). Dr. Sebastianelli’s comments reflected the potential severity of myocarditis and how this could drop an athlete’s athletic ability due to heart dysfunction caused by COVID-19 related myocarditis. Dr. Sebastianelli also stated that “we really just don’t know what to do with it right now,” noting that the data is alarming and contributed to the fact that college sports have largely been put on hold. The response has been varied across different states and schools but the goal is still to protect people as well as athletes, especially if 15% of those who get COVID-19 may suffer long-term complications that affect their ability to play sports and increase their risk of fatal heart incidents.


Not All Face Coverings Provide COVID-19 Protection

Recent research from Duke University’s School of Medicine suggests that neck gaiters and knitted masks offer considerably less protection than other common face coverings. With increased concerns of asymptomatic spread, researchers were interested in knowing what face coverings were actually helping the effort to curb the number of people becoming infected. The study conducted was meant to determine which of the face coverings commonly used were most effective and least effective. They concluded that N95 masks (used by medical professionals)and handmade cotton and polypropylene masks (including those made from apron material), proved more beneficial in stopping the spread of droplets that could contain COVID-19. The masks that failed their tests included knitted masks and neck gaiters (neck fleece). Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says “People really don’t understand that not all face coverings are equal, and that there are some that are going to be more or less effective.” We must continue to practice safety measures that are guided by evidence. We have seen other articles and videos demonstrate how aerosol and respiratory droplets are spread. The best thing we can do is wear masks that are effective and avoid using knitted or loosely woven material. 

Things to remember: 

More information:

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