Wearing masks may help AU athletics kickoff this fall


AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – Auburn University health experts say if you want to watch SEC football this fall, you can do your part by wearing a mask and taking other precautions to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

In a pandemic version of the 12th man philosophy, AU health experts say football fans can help control potential outbreaks, which may directly impact how athletic events are organized.

Hundreds of new COVID-19 cases are surfacing daily across Alabama. Six hundred new cases reported on Monday are down from 800 new cases in the days prior. Cases connected to Auburn University are also on the rise.

Campus healthcare experts say they’re working on reducing health risks in both academic and athletic areas. They believe the success of AU’s “new normal” plan is significantly impacted by individuals’ actions while out in the community.

“We have said from day one, this is not a sprint its a marathon,” reiterated AU Medical Clinic Director, Dr. Frederick Kam. “People do not realize we are still in the first wave of this pandemic, especially as we are trying to get Auburn and the university back to the new normal and prepare for bigger fall influx.”

Cases connected to AU are on the rise, and when students begin returning in late June, there could be a significant spike.

“Last week, we had 24 students test positive. We had nine test positive Monday, and we expect more today. It’s happening because the lifting of restrictions and the tendency of people to feel like the virus has gone away, which it hasn’t yet. There are parties and visits to downtown as well as lake parties and a lot of social interaction with no distancing, no masks, and a lot of close interactions,” said Kam.

Dr. Kam’s most significant concern is community health, especially high-risk individuals.

“We are hoping people will take a higher level of responsibility and do their part what little they can do to protect themselves and protect those who are vulnerable,” said Dr. Kam.

Dr. Kam says wearing masks in public is the number one action people can take to slow the spread, but as days go by, he’s seeing the community drop their guard literally.

“It’s saving lives; I guess people don’t see that. I struggle because I really want everyone to understand we each have an important role.” shared Dr. Kam.

Auburn is preparing for 30,000 students to return to campus for the fall semester in mid-August. Auburn University has designated two dorms to house students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and other students who either need to quarantine due to suspected cases of the virus or travel circumstances.

Masks, hand-washing, and social distancing are proven to save lives and reduce stress on health care providers. Ultimately, these simple actions could help dictate if you watch football or not.

“If we have a spike or an outbreak at Auburn, it will affect the fans, how man fans we can have. So yes, it does affect the situation,” said Kam.

There is good news hospitalizations at both EAMC hospitals in Lee, and Chambers county has remained flat over the last two weeks.

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