BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Across Alabama, there are growing concerns about how people are handling of the reopening of the state during the coronavirus pandemic.
UAB’s Dr. Michael Saag, a top infectious disease doctor, is sounding the alarm, grading the public an “F” in following the advice from health experts. Back when the pandemic was first starting to affect the state in March, he gave the state a “D” for people’s social distancing efforts, or lack thereof.
On Monday, Saag talked about the state’s failing grade in his estimation and how people could do better.
In Saag’s opinion, he has not seen many people wearing masks or keeping their distance as of late. For him, the issue was due to people suffering from inconsistent messaging, as well as a politicization of the pandemic by some.
“It seems like everything is being viewed through a political lens and what that means is if someone is wearing a mask, they’ll say ‘I think he/she is standing up for one or the other political position’ and we need to strip that away,” Saag said. “We’re dealing with a deadly pandemic and we need to be in this together, doing the things to protect each other.”
Saag also discussed how many colleges will be welcoming back students to campus in the coming months. UAB has been one of the institutions that have been consulting with different colleges and universities about creating a testing capacity to ensure students, faculty and staff can be tested.
“We don’t know exactly how many students will be infected on return to campus, so we’re working very hard right now to try and pull it together so we have testing capacity for all students at all higher education institutions,” he said.
When it comes to football, Saag said the likelihood of a season happening on time in the fall will depend on how many student-athletes are testing positive at any given moment. In the last few weeks, a number of football players at both Alabama and Auburn have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“There will be the old college try to get them on the field,” he said. “I don’t know how it will play out.”
Additionally, Saag said that while it was important not to have people cooped up in their homes, there were still safety concerns he had about going to different restaurants.
“When we go out, look around and if there’s not many people wearing a mask at a venue you’re going into, I’d try to stay away from that,” he said.
As of Monday, there have been over 30,000 coronavirus cases, 831 deaths, and 2,471 hospitalizations that had been reported across Alabama since the pandemic first began.