Masks Now Required for Everyone in Ingham County Schools

On Thursday, the Ingham County Health Department issued a new Emergency Order that requires masks in schools, effective this coming Tuesday, as well as specific isolation and quarantine measures. The move comes after a major increase in COVID-19 cases among children, and quarantines and positive cases in students and staff in every district in Ingham County.

The first Emergency Orders requires that "All Persons in Educational Settings, regardless of vaccination status, are required to consistently and properly wear a facial covering while inside any enclosed building or structure of an Educational Institution or vehicle of an Educational Institution" and that "Educational Institutions shall ensure that all persons, regardless of vaccination status, consistently and properly wear a facial covering while inside any enclosed building or structure of the institution or vehicle of the institution."

"'Educational Institutions' or 'Educational Settings' is broadly defined and includes but is not limited to, youth camps, youth programs, childcare centers, preschools, primary through secondary schools, and vocational schools. This definition includes educationally affiliated extracurricular activities such as school athletics, and transportation provided to and from educational settings and educationally affiliated extracurricular activities. School boards and persons in attendance at board meetings are included."

Exceptions are made for people who are "in the act of eating, drinking or napping," who are under four years old, who have developmental or medical conditions that interfere with the ability to wear a mask, and for vaccinated teachers working with students who need to be able to see their face (students who are hard of hearing or who have certain developmental conditions).

The second order provides "specific isolation and quarantine measures, following identification of close contacts, household exposures, or confirmed COVID-19 cases."

While school districts around the state have put mask mandates in effect to protect students and staff, the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has stated that there will not be a statewide mask mandate for schools at this time.

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Michigan Poison Center Warns Against Misuse of Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19

The Michigan Poison & Drug Information Center issued a statement warning against misuse of ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Ivermectin is used to treat animals for heartworm and parasites, and is also used in humans to treat parasitic worms, head lice, and skin conditions. Ivermectin has not been found to be effective at treating COVID-19, and it can have serious side effects, including death, seizures, liver damage, coma, hallucinations, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, lethargy, confusion, problems with balance, and movement disorders. The risk of serious side effects increases when people take ivermectin designed for animals, which uses higher concentrations and doses than drugs designed for humans. In addition to side effects, ivermectin can interact with other medications. For example, if ivermectin is used by people taking warfarin, a blood thinner, they have an increased risk of developing blood clotting disorders. Ivermectin also interacts with medications used to treat depression, anxiety, and neurologic disorders.

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Health Insurance Costs for COVID-19 Will No Longer Be Waived

Nearly three quarters of major health insurance companies throughout the country are ending fee waivers for COVID-19 testing and treatment. At least six insurers in Michigan are set to end waivers for treatment on September 30th, and most are ending waivers for testing on October 18th. Waivers for testing are required due to the federal public health emergency, which is set to expire on October 18, and there is no requirement for treatment waivers. The waivers made medical care for COVID-19 low- or no-cost for most people for the last year; moving forward, people will have to pay their typical cost-sharing fees for care.

Companies are eliminating waivers largely because the majority of medical costs are being incurred by people who are choosing not to get vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated are not only less likely to get infected, but infections are less likely to be severe, and therefore require less treatment. The shift in policy isn't unexpected - the waivers themselves were unprecedented and were never expected to be permanent. Reinstating fees only changes costs for testing and treatment after the waivers end; if you received testing or treatment in the past, you will not receive new bills.

Cost-sharing waiver end-dates for COVID-19 treatment among Michigan health insurance companies:

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FEMA Changes Policy That Disproportionately Denied Disaster Relief to Black Homeowners

On Thursday, in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricane Ida, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency announced changes to disaster relief policies which were disproportionately keeping Black people from being able to receive aid. In the past, homeowners applying for disaster have had to provide specific types of documentation, such as deeds, in order to have their claims approved. Applications lacking that documentation would be rejected, and could then be appealed. The new policy allows other types of documentation to be used, and FEMA will send inspectors to verify home ownership rather than sending blanket rejection letters that require homeowners go through an appeal process if the documentation is insufficient. The new policy was piloted in Detroit and surrounding areas after flooding this summer, and there was a significant increase in the number of properties that were considered eligible.

Black homeowners, particularly in the South, often do not have deeds and other documentation that FEMA had relied on, despite owning the property (and in many cases, the property had been owned by their family for generations). The lack of traditional documentation is tied to systemic racism and discrimination (as well as distrust) that prevented many Black people from acquiring standard legal documentation of property ownership. A recent study by the Washington Post found that majority-Black counties had twice the rate of FEMA denials, with a significant percentage related to property ownership documentation. In one instance, a predominantly Black area in Alabama hit by a tornado had more than 35% of applications denied due to not meeting property ownership verification.

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Police Officers and Paramedics Indicted for Killing Elijah McClain

Earlier this week, a grand jury in Colorado indicted three police officers and two paramedics for their roles in the death of Elijah McClain in 2019. McClain, a young Black man, was stopped by police while walking home from a store, put in a carotid hold (a modified version of a chokehold), injected with ketamine, and died in police custody. McClain was unarmed and had not committed a crime, and the Aurora City Council conducted an investigation that found that police and paramedics acted improperly at nearly every point in the incident, and that the Aurora Police Department’s internal investigation was flawed. All five police officers and paramedics were charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and assault.

Prosecutors in 2019 declined to bring charges against the police, but last year, Governor Jared Polis announced that the case was being re-examined after it received significant attention and protests as a part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Colorado banned police from using ketamine or from directing its use by EMS in July of 2021, in response to Elijah McClain's death.

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District Attorney Indicted for Interfering in Arrest of Men Who Killed Ahmaud Arbery

A former Georgia district attorney has been indicted for interfering in the arrest of one of the men who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery and showing favoritism in the investigation of another. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging in Brunswick, Georgia when a former police officer saw him and thought he looked like someone suspected of break-ins in the area. The man and his son then got two guns, got into a pickup truck, and chased him down and confronted him. They claim to have been conducting a citizen's arrest and that they acted in self-defense. A third man joined the chase and tried to block Arbery, and filmed the incident on his phone. After getting into a physical altercation, the men shot Arbery multiple times, killing him.

The indictment states that the district attorney violated her oath of office by interfering in the arrest of one of the men who shot Arbery and by "showing favor and affection...during the investigation" to another.

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Teacher Infects 50% of Class With COVID-19 By Not Wearing Mask

A CDC report examining 26 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Marin County, California found that an unvaccinated teacher infected 50% of the students in one of their classrooms, with risk directly connected to how close they were sitting to the teacher. The teacher continued to work for two days after becoming symptomatic with COVID-19 (after which they were tested and stopped working). During those two two days, the teacher occasionally read out loud to a class without wearing a mask, ignoring school requirements that they stay masked while indoors. All of the teacher's students were too young to be vaccinated, and 12 of the 24 students in the class ended up testing positive for COVID-19, including 8 of 10 in the first two rows next to the teacher's desk. Six students in other grades and eight parents and siblings students also ended up positive for COVID-19 as a result of the outbreak. The case reinforces how critical it is for people to wear masks indoors, to get vaccinated if they are eligible, and to stay home when experiencing symptoms.

The Delta variant spreads easily in indoor spaces when people are unmasked and unvaccinated.

Occasionally unmasked infected with Delta variant worked for 2 days. 12 of 24 kids infected.

Schools can help stop spread by ensuring everyone:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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COVID-19 Mu and C.1.2 Variants

In recent news, the World Health Organization (WHO) added the Mu variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 to their list as a “variant of interest.” This variant has started to make rounds in the media and has been detected in most states and in many countries, but only makes up a very small portion of COVID-19 cases. The Mu variant was primarily a cause of concern due to its similarities to the Delta variant and its suggested ability to evade antibodies. In a recent press conference, Dr. Fauci stated that while they would keep a close eye on the Mu variant, the Delta variant is still the biggest concern right now. Currently, over 99% of COVID-19 cases are due to the Delta variant, according to the CDC, and Mu is not considered a variant of interest by the CDC.

There are many variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, and as the pandemic continues, there will continue to be more. Another variant that was recently detected in South Africa also made some news as it was said to be “the most mutated variant yet.” While that may also sound concerning, the number of mutations a virus has does not necessarily make it any more harmful than other variants. There will continue to be variants as long as this pandemic continues, and while many may sound concerning, ultimately it is most important to continue to take basic steps to protect ourselves and each other. By doing that, we may also prevent the virus from further mutating into anything that could be potentially more harmful. Get fully vaccinated when you can, wear a mask, and continue to socially distance, practice proper hygiene, and reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

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This Week's QM Round-Up Contributors (in alphabetical order):