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Science on Tap: Get your COVID questions answered

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Between vaccine boosters, changing masking guidelines, and the possibility of a new variant popping up at any time, information is always changing during the pandemic.

On top of that, what is a risk for one person, may not be for another.

Dave and Shelby O’Connor want to help people make the best possible decisions based on the most accurate information.

They’re both professors of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UW Madison, and they are tonight’s Science on Tap Minocqua speakers.

“Our role is to basically say, ‘Here is what the science says.’ And then, ’Here is how you might want to consider integrating that into whatever decisions are made either on an individual level or a school level or a community level,’” said Dave.

The pair has spent the last two years learning the ins and outs of COVID-19 and how we might be best fight it in the future.

They’ve been looking into things like testing a room for virus droplets rather than trying to keep up with mass individual testing.

The idea is that if you know how likely you are to be exposed to the virus in a certain setting, you can respond accordingly with the proper safety measures.

“We’re trying to respond to that challenge by coming up with innovative ways of sampling that bypass some of the conventional problems and issues like the massive PCR testing programs that so many people have been asked to participate in,” said Dave.

They’ve also spent a lot of time helping people and schools make decisions regarding COVID-19.

Dave says that changes from person to person and over time as they learn more about the virus.

“Decisions making a couple of years into a pandemic is a dash of science, a hint of politics, and individual risk assessment. You mix it all up and people kind of end of in different places about what their risk is,” said Dave.

That’s what they hope to accomplish with Wednesday’s Science on Tap Minocqua.

During the virtual event, Dave and Shelby will answer your COVID questions. Their goal is to help people make the best decisions for themselves and those around them.

Shelby asks people to come with an open mind and hopes they leave with more knowledge than they came with.

She also hopes they’ll leave with some empathy for scientists.

“We’ve been wrong a lot of times, more than maybe we’ve been right, about some of the predictions that we’ve had for the pandemic,” said Shelby. “What I hope people recognize is that scientists are trying. We’re trying to make decisions and guide people for the betterment of the community at large and it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t always comport with what individuals want, but it’s not that we’re trying to be people, but that we’re really trying to make decisions to better everyone.”

Wednesday’s Science on Tap Minocqua is being held via YouTube starting at 6:30.

People will be able to ask the O’Connor’s questions in the comment field.

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