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 18 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 | April 4-5]

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:

Why do some people not have symptoms? Why did the virus start in China? What happens if and when stay-at-home orders are lifted? Why are black people dying of the coronavirus at a much higher rate than other races? Is the government authorizing doctors to decide who lives and who dies when rationing ventilators? How do I deal with being cooped up? Do healthy people die of COVID-19? How much does it cost to be hospitalized for COVID-19? How big of a problem are false negative tests? What should we be donating to hospitals and healthcare workers? What kinds of mental health problems await our doctors on the front lines? Can we expect more dangerous viruses like COVID-19 to emerge in the future? What are my options for therapy? Will we have a stronger health care system at the end of this pandemic?

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.


Shainna Ali, PhD, LMHC, NCC (Orlando, FL)
Mental health counselor, educator, advocate

Shainna Ali is a mental health counselor, educator, and advocate. Dr. Ali is passionate about destigmatizing mental health counseling and helping individuals worldwide recognize the importance of fostering mental wellness. She is a nationally certified counselor, approved clinical supervisor, and a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Florida where is the owner and operator of Integrated Counseling Solutions, LLC, a strengths-based clinical mental health and consulting practice located in Downtown Orlando. Dr. Shainna Ali is the author of The Self-Love Workbook, The Self-Love Workbook for Teens, and the blog A Modern Mentality which is hosted by Psychology Today. Dr. Ali is also an active blog contributor for the American Counseling Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Thrive Global. As a mental health advocate Dr. Ali has been featured in outlets such as CBS, ABC, NBC, Yahoo, Bustle, NPR, The Washington Post, and The Insider.

Dr. Ali is a past president of the Florida Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development, presently serves on the editorial boards for the Journal for Creativity in Mental Health and the Journal of Counseling Sexology & Sexual Wellness: Research, Practice, and Education, and is an ambassador for the International Registry of Counselor Education programs. Dr. Ali has been named an emerging leader by both the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision and the Association for Creativity in Counseling. She has also been honored with the Association for Specialists in Group Work’s Al Dye Award, the Pete Fischer Humanitarian Award, and 30 under 30 award by her alma mater, the University of Central Florida.

Follow Dr. Ali on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Check out Dr. Ali’s website for more information on her work and private practice.

Oveta Fuller, PhD (Ann Arbor, MI)
Virologist, scientist, clergyperson

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.

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 research 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.

Her research has focused on sexuality and included extensive laboratory based work on the impact of SCI on sexual response. She translated her findings to make them available to a consumer audience through the book: Sexual Sustainability:  A guide to having-a great sex life with a spinal cord disorder, which will also be available soon in Spanish.

Dr. Alexander is a leader in telerehabilitation and is passionate about the issues of persons with disabilities and quality of life. She started a nonprofit called Telerehabilitation International and recently launched the YouTube channel, Sustain Our Abilities. The channel’s goal is to bring rehab professionals from around the world into people’s home to educate people with disabilities who are homebound during the COVID-19 crisis and to be a source of support during future disasters and climate change effects. Moreover, it is a mechanism in which people with disabilities can share their success stories online.

Dr. Alexander also began a walk from Canada to Key West in 2019 to highlight issues of accessibility for persons with disabilities and to educate both professionals and communities about the issue of disasters, climate change and disability. In this process, she has given multiple professional lectures and launched the concept of “Day for Tomorrow,” a time for people to come together in community to prepare for disasters.

Follow Dr. Alexander on Twitter and Instagram, and check out Sustain Our Abilities on YouTube.

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.