WABI, WVII interview UMaine professors, students about vetting information for Bangor Public Health

WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported a team of professors and students at the University of Maine is vetting information about COVID-19 for the Bangor Public Health and Community Services Department. The team looks at new coronavirus research, government regulations and case figures, and answers to questions about the pandemic, and supplies vetted information to the department every two to three days, WABI reported. “There is a lot of information that has been thrown at people and it’s been overwhelming in a time of panic anyways. Our hope is to diminish the panic but also emphasize why it’s important to know how to protect yourself and others,” said Ashleigh Beaulieu, a graduate research assistant.  “There have been a lot of myths that have come out and some of it actually comes from published literature that sometimes gets misinterpreted,” said Melissa Maginnis, an assistant professor of microbiology. “Something that we were discussing recently was we should probably give some guidance to people that are going out into grocery stores and pharmacies and things like that, so that they can better understand the way in which they need to interact in our new world where we are dealing with COVID-19.” Kristy Townsend, an associate professor of neurobiology, said, “I always tell my students ‘caveat emptor,’ which means buyer beware when you’re reading the news. There is a big mental health risk right now with everyone being isolated and not having their normal social support system and the news can be overwhelming especially when you don’t understand a virus like this.” Maginnis added, “We are biomedical researchers and so really most of us got into this field because we want to help reduce human disease and suffering. In some ways we feel sort of helpless and we want to be able to help and this is a way that we can give back to the community.”