MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The University of Minnesota helped lead the way in COVID-19 testing this spring, and its work continues with finding effective treatments for the disease.

Dr. Jakub Tolar, the dean of the university’s medical school, believes in optimism as a driving force behind progress.

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“This is not an empty Disneyland kind of hope,” he said. “No, this is born of the history of medicine. People become the best versions of themselves when they apply themselves to a challenge.”

The university is currently running 19 clinical trials testing COVID-19 treatments. Tolar says they’re looking at different drugs and the effects of our bodies’ natural immune cells.

Advances in treatment combined with the additional PPE available now makes Tolar optimistic about “flattening the curve” as cases in the Midwest surge.

“What we are seeing now, I think, is more periodicity of about 8-10 weeks that we see a wavelength, not a wave perhaps and we can be prepared for this,” he said. “Our readiness today is so much better than it was even three months ago.”

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Tolar says our behavior plays a huge role in the fight as well, like getting flu shots. He calls the flu a “compound risk” to COVID-19.

Tolar also stresses the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, and hand washing.

“These low-cost, low-intensity measures are incredibly effective and believe me, they’re much better than coming to my hospital and getting intubated and getting all these fancy drugs,” he said.

Tolar suggests looking less at big-picture COVID-related numbers, and focusing more on doing the right thing within your social circle.

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“In this way, I think we can domesticate the pandemic and domesticate the anxiety that comes with the pandemic,” he said.

David Schuman