Have a question about COVID-19 or your financial situation? Email the question, your name, and your city to our medical and finance experts at coronaquestions@nexstar.tv to have it answered on “Coronavirus House Calls.” Watch the next episode on Saturday, May 2 at 3 p.m. CT!

CBS 42’s Art Franklin

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — While some states have yet to see the worst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 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 | April 18-19]

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:

Is it safe to reopen America? Are hospitals prepared to treat more patients when the economy restarts? How long after contracting COVID-19 can someone test positive? Do doctors and nurses have enough PPE? If COVID-19 is mutating, what does that mean for a vaccine? How are COVID-19 deaths determined? Is home health care safe? How do I talk to children about COVID-19? Is there a ventilator protocol for treating people with intellectual disabilities? How do you maintain hope? Are there enough COVID-19 tests? What are my chances of getting the coronavirus if I’m sent to the ER? When a person dies of COVID-19, does the virus die with them? How are the dead handled, and do they get a funeral? Does smoking marijuana raise the risk of severe COVID-19 complications? Can masks be reused? Are prisoners who’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 being treated? What’s being done to address the disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases and deaths among African Americans? What kinds of mental health problems await COVID-19 survivors and the frontline healthcare workers? How does one cope with the reality of COVID-19?

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

Dr. Saag received a B.S. in chemistry with honors in 1977 from 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 six 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 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), and the first proof of concept of fusion inhibition as a therapeutic option (Nature Medicine, 1998). He directed the ‘first-in-patient’ studies of seven 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 is 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.

Ashely Alker, MD, MSc (Stafford, VA)
Emergency medicine physician, CMMO Doctorpedia

Ashely Alker, M.D., M.Sc. is an Emergency Medicine physician and a nationally published speaker and writer, with a focus on patient education and healthcare policy. She is the Chief Medical Media Officer at Doctorpedia. Dr. Alker studied at Harvard School of Public Health’s international institute in Cyprus, where she lived near the UN Green zone and worked at the Unit for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture. After attending George Washington University School of Medicine, Dr. Alker worked as a healthcare advisor for a U.S. Congressman. During her medical residency at The University of California, San Diego, Dr. Alker served as president of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine Resident Student Association. Dr. Alker has been a featured writer on TEDMED, KevinMD, White Coat Investor, Feminem, and written a children’s book on understanding death. She is also a medical consultant for major network television and films.

Follow Dr. Alker on Twitter, and check out Dr. Alker’s website for more information on her work.

Gail Saltz, MD (New York City)
Psychiatrist, bestselling author, host of “Personology” podcast

Dr. Gail Saltz (Photo by William Occhiuzzo)

Dr. Gail Saltz is best known for her work as a relationship, family, emotional wellbeing, and mental health/wellness contributor in the media. A go-to for all of the major news organizations, Dr. Saltz is a fantastic expert to provide commentary on the mental health aspects of current/breaking issues and news. She is a bestselling author of numerous books and key expert on a variety of important psychological issues. She also serves as a Medial Expert for the Physicians for Human Rights. Her most recent book, The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius, is a powerful and inspiring examination of the connection between the potential for great talent and conditions commonly thought to be “disabilities.”  Dr. Saltz is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of medicine, a psychoanalyst with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and has a private practice in Manhattan. Dr. Saltz launched her brand new podcast, “Personology” with iHeart Media in March 2020.

Learn more about Dr. Saltz, and follow her on Twitter.

Oveta Fuller, PhD (Ann Arbor, MI)
Virologist, scientist, former pastor

A. Oveta Fuller is medical school faculty member in Microbiology and Immunology and in the STEM Initiative of the African Studies Center (ASC) at the University of Michigan (UM). She also is an adjunct professor at Payne Theological Seminary (PTS) and an ordained itinerant elder and former pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. As a scientist who studies and teaches about viruses (a virologist), Dr. Fuller’s laboratory team has published studies about herpes simplex and influenza viruses. She teaches UM medical, graduate, dental, and undergraduate students about human virus pathogens. Her current community engagement research with networks of religious leaders in communities of Zambia, South Africa and the USA seeks to enhance effective engagement in disease prevention. This includes teaching annual courses at Payne Seminary “What Effective Clergy Should Know about HIV/AIDS” and What Effective Leaders Should Know about Health.” Her UM study abroad course, “Global Impact of Microbes: Fieldwork” takes students to field sites to explore effective partnerships for global health research.

Dr. Fuller earned a B.A. (biology) and a Ph.D. (microbiology and immunology) from the UNC-CH and conducted postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago. Along with research grants from the NIH and National Science Foundation, she is a fellow of the Ford Foundation (1986) and the J William Fulbright (2012) programs. Her sabbatical in 2015-2016 in sociology at Duke University explored the use of religious leader networks in disease prevention. She has received academic and community awards in recognition of contributions and is an inaugural alumna of the Ansbacher Women in Academic Leadership Program at the UM Medical School. Dr. Fuller lived most of 2013 in the southern African country of Zambia conducting studies with the Trusted Messenger approach she developed for HIV/AIDS prevention. She grew up in Caswell County, N.C and is the daughter of Herbert R. and Deborah Woods Fuller. She and her husband Dr. Jerry Caldwell live in Dexter, Michigan and are parents of three young adults.

Learn more about Dr. Fuller’s work at UM, and read more about her efforts to bring faith and science together.