BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A special edition of the CBS 42 News focused on how the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County, the state of Alabama and the country are faring as cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations continue to rise.

CBS 42’s Art Franklin and Sherri Jackson hosted the special report with Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, President of the Black Nurses Association Dr. Martha Dawson and UAB infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Saag adding their expertise.

A survivor of COVID-19, Bill Lazenby talked about his battle with the virus, saying he will “absolutely” be getting the vaccine once he can.

“I’m improving every day,” he said. “I’ve got a long way to go, but I am getting stronger every day for sure.”

Lazenby got out of the hospital this past Friday after getting COVID 19 from a Fourth of July hunting trip.

“From where I’m sitting, you don’t want to take your chance not being vaccinated,” Lazenby said.

Our panel calling this a two-front war of a virus and misinformation, as kids make their way to the classroom.

“We have a potential perfect storm of a very contagious virus, a lot of kids thrown together in a classroom and other activities in school and this virus can wreak havoc on that population,” UAB Infectious Disease expert Dr. Michael Saag said.

They say sending your children to school without a mask is like driving without putting them in car seats.  

“We don’t have the luxury of sitting around and trying to make a decision about information that we might get down the road,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said.

Birmingham City Council President William Parker said council is working around the clock to create incentives from the $141 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan money to get people vaccinated.

“We need to do whatever is necessary in order to finally defeat COVID-19,” Parker said. “Whatever we need to do we will maximize every tool within our toolbox and then some.”  

In the end, our panel said we’re all in this together to see a brighter 2022.

“It’s going to take unified efforts of every community leader and every person that’s a part of this beautiful City of Birmingham and this beautiful state of Alabama – a unified effort of everyone to help get everyone vaccinated,” CBS 42’s Resident Doctor Dr. Celeste Reese-Willis said.

Following the special report, a digital roundtable was hosted by Jackson and Franklin to answer questions regarding the pandemic. They were joined again by Dawson as well as CBS 42’s Resident Doctor Dr. Celeste Reese Willis, President of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses Dr. Grace Grau, Director of Marketing for Alabama Regional Medical Services Chris Mosley, President of the Alabama State Nurses Association Dr. Lindsey Harris and Birmingham City Council President William Parker.

You can watch both specials in the video players above.