Catching up with Auburn in T-Town?

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On August 2, 2021, Al.com‘s Tandra Smith reported that masks would be required on the campus of Auburn University.

It was reported that the University of Alabama (UofA) might as well be requiring masks on campus. Zach Johnson, in UofA‘s student newspaper The Crimson White, wrote on August 4, 2021, that UofA Provost James Dalton had said that a campus-wide mask mandate for the fall semester would be likely. Johnson wrote, “Dalton said at least 70% of faculty and staff have reported COVID-19 vaccinations. The University has not released an official report, but about 10% of students had uploaded proof of vaccination by July 30, according to Senior Associate Vice President of Student Life Steven Hood.”

Students at the the UofA had begun returning to the campus in early August, many of whom would participate in the Greek community’s recruitment week.

An alarming story by WVUA/23 “Students heading back to school amid COVID surge” pointed out that T-Town had been experiencing increased hospitalizations due to the Covid virus.

As Meg Summers had reported in the Tuscaloosa Thread, “the Alabama Department of Public Health is […] urging residents to only visit hospital emergency rooms in times of true emergency in an effort to reduce the strain placed upon doctors and nurses.” She also wrote that the “DCH Regional Health System is expanding its inpatient wards to prepare for the surge of inpatients as the Delta variant spreads rapidly in West Alabama.”

Staff at the Patch reported on August, 4, 2021 that “Tuscaloosa County has a ‘high’ level of coronavirus transmission, […] according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” The Patch article continued, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in public if they live in an area with ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ transmission levels. Those who aren’t fully vaccinated are urged to wear masks in those settings, regardless of transmission level.”

The Patch‘s Ryan Phillips wrote that the Kentuck Art Center in Northport would be closed because an employee had tested positive the Coronavirus. And the city of Northport had “reimplemented social distancing guidelines for visitors to City Hall, in addition to temperature checks for those coming inside to attend Council meetings.”

Cecil Hurt reported in the Tuscaloosa News that UofA Athletic Director Greg Byrne had commented on plans for football games at Bryant Denny Stadium. “We have not had any serious discussions about reducing capacity, and we’d like to keep it that way. I know our team and our fans are looking forward to a full stadium again, so we are asking people to do their part.” As far as mask requirements were concerned Byrne said, “That would have to be discussed at the university administration or the UA system level.”

Will Sentell in the Advocate reported that Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards had said that as soon as the the U. S. Food and Drug Administration would give final approval to COVID-19 vaccines, there could be mandatory vaccinations of Louisiana State University students.

As reported by Reuters, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is aiming to give full approval for the Pfizer (PFE.N) COVID vaccine by early September.” Of course it would take two weeks after anyone who was fully vaccinated for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19.

The importance of vaccinating younger adults was reported by Roni Caryn Rabin in the New York Times. She wrote, “Physicians working in Covid hot spots across the nation say that the patients in their hospitals are not like the patients they saw last year. Almost always unvaccinated, the new arrivals tend to be younger, many in their 20s or 30s. And they seem sicker than younger patients were last year, deteriorating more rapidly.”

A workaround of Alabama‘s new law against vaccination mandates at Birmingham Southern University had been challenged by the state’s Attorney General Steve Marshall according a report by ABC/33-40‘s Stephen Quinn. Birmingham Southern’s plan had been to charge its students a $500 fee offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who had been vaccinated would have received a full rebate. Al.com‘s Kyle Whitmire wrote a column suggesting that Alabama’s vaccine passport ban be challenged in court.

T-Town‘s city government had not been as proactive as its sister city Northport and the UofA seemed to be behind its sister state institution Auburn in taking measures to address the high transmission of the coronavirus. On September 11, 2021, when the UofA‘s football stadium was expected to be packed with fans, would T-Town’s Covid-19 peril have only increased?

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