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Concerns Tuscaloosa championship celebration became COVID mass spreader event

Faculty given option to temporarily hold classes remotely
Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 5:28 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The celebration for the University of Alabama’s college football national championship is over for some, but now comes the worry for others that Monday night’s scene on The Strip in Tuscaloosa could be a mass spreader event for coronavirus.

“What we’ve done is literally poured gasoline on the situation, especially in west Alabama,” said President of the Alabama Hospital Association Don Williamson. He was shocked to see what happened.

As many as 5,000 people were packed into several blocks of University Boulevard. There was no social distancing and not enough mask wearing.

“More people in that crowd will get infected. Some of them will end up in the hospital. Some of them will spread disease to their parents, grandparents, and other individuals who may be at greater risk,” Williamson continued.

He worried about the stress this could continue to put on DCH Regional Medical Center. On Monday, the hospital had 174 patients with COVID-19 and 44 of them were in ICU.

“What I see from the pictures is clear evidence that they’re going to continue to see more cases in part as a result of that gathering yesterday,” Williamson feared.

Statement from The University of Alabama about the crowd on the Strip after the National Championship Game:

In cooperation with the City of Tuscaloosa and area law enforcement agencies, over the last several days The University of Alabama worked to minimize risk before, during and after last night’s national championship football game. In addition to warnings and admonitions about the need for masks, social distancing and responsible behavior, the University added multiple officers to patrol areas around campus, including The Strip.

As a result of recent events, we are allowing faculty to be flexible for the next two weeks with the option to temporarily hold classes remotely. Students have the option to attend in-person activities remotely as well. Staff will continue with adjusted flexible scheduling. While UA classroom transmission is almost nonexistent, we understand the concerns caused by recent events. All health and safety rules remain in effect, including mandatory distancing, masks and other protocols. We will continue to enforce the Code of Student Conduct as it relates to COVID-19 and expect full compliance this semester.

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