At the beginning of the pandemic, scientists didn't know much of COVID-19 and it made it a breeding ground for conspiracy theories of how the virus works and how to prevent it. From the cure being sun rays to the pandemic not even being real, it's been difficult to combat this misinformation.
When Dr. Jennifer Myer saw some misinformation being shared on Facebook, she immediately took action with a gif with the message.
"Wow, the misinformation in this comment section is on another level. Let's bring some SCIENCE back, shall we," Myer said.
After that, a group contacted the UAA public relations students to help doctors flag the misinformation.
Mary Ryan is a new UAA graduate who is a part of this group combating misinformation. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and public communications. Before working for the Health Response Team, Ryan worked at The Northern Light as a Managing Editor.
Ryan got into the response team while being a part of the Public Relations Student Society of America at UAA. Once she graduated, the Alaska Public Health Response team offered her a grant to keep her on to help with the fight against the conspiracy theorists.
"I think that being able to help combat misinformation just helped us take back a little bit of control in our lives, I guess, out control over the pandemic, you know?" Ryan said.
While working for the Alaska Public Health Response Team, Ryan has seen many people praise their work and demean them.
"I have also seen some nasty responses, but that's Facebook," Ryan said.
The work isn't done fighting the virus, and the Alaska Public Health Response Team will keep on teaching and correcting misinformation about the virus.
Since the interview, Alaska has become the first state to allow adults to take the COVID-19 vaccine. If you'd like to find a COVID-19 vaccination center near you, visit http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/default.aspx
If you'd like to see more about the Alaska Public Health Response Team, you can visit their Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AlaskaPublicHealth/.