Opinion: There is a critical need for science-based, nonpartisan information about the pandemic

‘Dear Pandemic’ curates the latest science and practical advice for general audiences on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

By Amanda M. Simanek
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
September 10, 2020

Editor’s note: Six months ago, Gov. Tony Evers ordered nonessential businesses and schools to close and people to stay home — the official start of a statewide battle with the coronavirus. We asked a diverse group of people from Wisconsin to reflect on the lessons of the past six months and to look ahead.

Over the past six months, I have been amazed by the way scientists, health care practitioners, government leaders, and citizens across Wisconsin have worked together in unprecedented ways to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

In my role as an epidemiologist, I have learned there is a critical need for clear, science-based, nonpartisan communication regarding the latest scientific advancements and public health recommendations related to COVID-19 as part of our pandemic response.

Indeed, the World Health Organization has called the near-constant barrage of new information (as well as misinformation) related to COVID-19 as an “infodemic” that is occurring alongside the pandemic.

To help address this infodemic, six months ago, I joined forces with an interdisciplinary team of nine other female, PhD-trained scientists in running a social-media based science communication campaign called Dear Pandemic. We curate the latest science and practical advice for general audiences on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and over the next six months will continue our efforts to rapidly disseminate the latest pandemic-related information to those living in Wisconsin and beyond.

I hope that as a state, we will continue cooperating across multiple sectors to reduce the impacts of the pandemic while working to ensure the most vulnerable among us are protected and our public health efforts are implemented with a meaningful focus on health equity. Ultimately, I am optimistic that we will end up better prepared to respond on a state, national, and global level, to the next novel pathogen that will inevitably emerge and require a coordinated response.

As a faculty member in the epidemiology track within the Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I look forward to training the next cadre of public health professionals during a time when the relevance of expertise and leadership in this field has probably never been greater.

Amanda M. Simanek, MPH, PhD, is associate professor, epidemiology at the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.