Have a question about COVID-19? Email the question, your name, and your city to our doctors at coronaquestions@nexstar.tv to have it answered on “Coronavirus House Calls.” Watch the next episode on Saturday, April 11 at 3 p.m. CT!

CBS 42’s Art Franklin

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the U.S. may be growing exponentially, but we want to look beyond statistics. We’re here to talk about your concerns, differentiate between fact and fiction, and move from fear to hope.

[WATCH: Coronavirus House Calls | March 28-29]

That’s why we’ve assembled a panel of the nation’s top doctors to answer your biggest questions about COVID-19 in the Nexstar digital original, “Coronavirus House Calls” hosted by Emmy award-winning CBS 42 Anchor Art Franklin.

Some of the questions addressed this weekend include:

Shouldn’t everyone make and wear their own masks, regardless of whether they’re symptomatic? Besides wearing masks and washing hands, what can healthcare and essential workers do to protect themselves and their families? When will the U.S. reach its peak in COVID-19 cases? What’s the risk to pregnant women and their unborn babies? Is blood type correlated to severity of COVID-19 symptoms? Will heat help kill this virus? Can mosquitos transmit COVID-19? Who needs to get the new antibody blood test? Will COVID-19 come back in the fall, and will things be any different by then?

If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. Keep track of your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), get medical attention right away.


Dr. Anand Parekh, MD (Washington, D.C.)
Medical policy advisor, clinical and public health expert

Ananda Parekh (Photo by Greg Gibson)

Anand Parekh is the Bipartisan Policy Center’s chief medical advisor providing clinical and public health expertise across the organization. Since 2015, he has led specific efforts tackling a variety of policy issues including the opioid crisis, obesity epidemic & nutrition, health & housing, domestic and global HIV/AIDS, business & public health collaboration, emergency preparedness, social isolation, rural health, and prescription drug costs.

Prior to joining BPC, he completed a decade of service at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As a HHS deputy assistant secretary for health from 2008 to 2015, he developed and implemented national initiatives focused on prevention, wellness, and care management. Specifically, he played instrumental roles in the implementation of the Recovery Act’s Prevention and Wellness Fund, the Affordable Care Act’s prevention initiatives, and HHS’ Multiple Chronic Conditions Initiative.

Briefly in 2007, he was delegated the authorities of the assistant secretary for health overseeing ten health program offices and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Earlier in his HHS career, he played key roles in public health emergency preparedness efforts related to pandemic influenza and bioterrorism as special assistant to the science advisor to the secretary.

Parekh is a board-certified internal medicine physician, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, and an adjunct assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, where he previously completed his residency training in the Osler Medical Program of the Department of Medicine. He provided volunteer clinical services for many years at the Holy Cross Hospital Health Center, a clinic for the uninsured in Silver Spring, MD.

Parekh is an adjunct professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He currently serves on the dean’s advisory board of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the Presidential Scholars Foundation board of directors, and the board of directors of WaterAid America.

He has spoken widely and written extensively on a variety of health topics such as chronic care management, population health, value in health care, and the need for health and human services integration. His book Prevention First: Policymaking for a Healthier America was released in December 2019 and argues that prevention must be our nation’s top health policy priority.

A native of Michigan, Parekh received a B.A. in political science, an M.D., and an M.P.H. in health management and policy from the University of Michigan. He was selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in 1994.

Follow Dr. Parekh on Twitter, and learn more about his work at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Dr. Ashish Jha MD, MPH (Cambridge, MA)
Physician, renowned health policy researcher

Ashish Jha, M.D., MPH, is the K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. He is a practicing General Internist and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Jha received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and then trained in Internal Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. He completed his General Medicine fellowship at Brigham & Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School and received his M.P.H. from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research endeavors focus on improving the quality and costs of healthcare systems with a specialized focus on the impact of policies. Dr. Jha has published over two hundred various papers in prestigious journals and heads a personal blog, which focuses on using statistical data research to improve health quality. Dr. Jha is a member of the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Follow Dr. Jha on Twitter, and check out Dr. Jha’s website for more information.

Dr. Jorge E. Rodriguez, MD (Los Angeles, CA)
Internist, gastroenterologist, HIV researcher

Jorge E. Rodriguez M.D (“Dr. Jorge”) is a medical doctor with a specialization in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterologist. Born in Cuba but raised in Miami and New York City, Dr. Jorge is bilingual in English and Spanish. He graduated from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine with honors. He obtained his specialty in Internal Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans and his subspecialty in Gastroenterologist at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. Since then Dr. Jorge has developed an international reputation as a leader in Internal Medicine and as a researcher in Hepatitis C and HIV therapies. He is the proud author of two best-selling books: The Acid Reflux Solution and The Diabetes Solution. Dr. Jorge can often be found as a medical expert on various media outlets including CNN, The Doctors, The View, The Today Show and many others.

Follow Dr. Jorge on Twitter and on Facebook, and check out Dr. Jorge’s website for more information on his private practice.

Dr. Marcalee Alexander, MD (Hoover, AL)
Rehabilitation medicine and telemedicine specialist

Marcalee Alexander graduated Jefferson Medical College where she also completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She has a strong background in Spinal Cord Injury and was the first female president of the American Spinal Injury Association. She has published over 125 professional manuscripts and has served as the editor of the journal Spinal Cord Series and Cases since 2017.

Most of her research has focused on sexuality and she is an expert on the impact of neurologic disorders on sexual response. She is the author of the ebook: Sexual Sustainability, A Guide to Having a Great Sex Life with a Spinal Cord Disorder. Dr. Alexander is a Clinical Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is also a leader in telerehabilitation and runs a sexuality telehealth clinic at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Alexander is passionate about the issues of persons with disabilities and how they are impacted by disasters. She took a hiatus from the full-time practice of medicine in 2019 and began a walk from Canada to Key West down roads of the US to bring attention to the issues of accessibility and quality of life for persons with disabilities and educate both professionals and communities. During this time, she launched the first Day for Tomorrow, a day when people can come together in community to prepare for disasters.

Dr. Alexander also started a nonprofit called Telerehabilitation International, with a mission to create a volunteer network of rehabilitation physicians to provide telemedicine consults for persons with disabilities in disaster areas. Telerehabilitation International is also partnering with other groups to organize a summit to be held in 2021 with a goal of bringing together leaders from the disability field and the climate change field. Sustain Our Abilities is the name of the summit and is also the name of an online visual anthology dedicated to bringing attention to the stories of people with disabilities.

Follow Dr. Alexander on Twitter and Facebook.

Dr. Michael Saag, MD (Birmingham, AL)
Infectious disease specialist, renowned HIV/AIDS researcher

Dr. Saag received a B.S. in chemistry with honors in 1977 Tulane University, earned his medical degree with honors from the University of Louisville, and completed his residency and infectious disease and molecular virology fellowship training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. During the last 6 months of his fellowship, Dr. Saag conceived the concept of a comprehensive HIV outpatient (1917) clinic dedicated to the provision of interdisciplinary patient care in conjunction with the conduct of high quality clinical trials, translational science, and clinical outcomes research.  Within the clinic structure, he established a clinical trials unit, a data management center, and a Clinical Specimen Repository designed to support the activities of the newly established Center for AIDS Research at UAB. In essence, the clinic became a “hub” for the clinical, basic science, and behavioral science investigators within the Center by creating a dynamic interface between the patients and the investigators.

Dr. Saag has participated in many studies of antiretroviral therapy as well as novel treatments for opportunistic infections. He has published over 450 articles in peer reviewed journals, including the first description of the use of viral load in clinical practice (Science, 1993), the first description of the rapid dynamics of viral replication (Nature, 1995), the first guidelines for use of viral load in practice (Nature Medicine, 1996), the first proof of concept of fusion inhibition as a therapeutic option (Nature Medicine, 1998), and directed the ‘first-in- patient’ studies of 7 of the 30 antiretroviral drugs currently on the market. 

Dr. Saag Co-Edited a textbook entitled AIDS Therapy (now in its 3rd edition) and currently serves as an Editor of the Sanford Guide for Antimicrobial Agents and the Sanford HIV Guide. Dr. Saag serves on the International AIDS Society-USA Board of Directors, is a Past-President of the HIV Medical Association, is Chair of the IAS-USA Antiretroviral Therapy Guidelines panel, was a founding Co-Chair of the AASLD / IDSA Hepatitis C Guidelines Panel, and a past-member of the HHS Guidelines Panel on Antiretroviral Therapy and the WHO Antiretroviral Therapy Guidelines panel.

In 2014, he was the Castle-Connolly National Physician of the Year and was inducted into the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame. An accomplished teacher, Dr. Saag has been awarded Argus awards annually by the UAB medical students as Best Lecturer in the Patient, Doctor, and Society module. Dr. Saag recently published a memoir entitled “Positive: One doctor’s encounters with death, life, and the US Healthcare system,” now in its second printing.

Follow Dr. Saag on Twitter.