June 28, 2021
MCHD’s Facebook Live COVID-19 updates ending today
MOBILE, Ala. —When the initial cases of COVID-19 were reported in Mobile County, daily news conferences took place with the media at the Keeler Memorial Building to keep the public informed with the latest information. However, it was soon decided it would not be possible to maintain social distancing at these events.
In its place, the Mobile County Health Department began providing updates through Facebook Live episodes on March 17, 2020. These took place each weekday for many months, before going to twice-weekly segments and eventually to reports each Monday. All the while, questions from the media and public were addressed.
As the state of emergency declared by Gov. Kay Ivey ends on Tuesday, July 6, it has been decided to wrap up the Facebook Live updates. Today’s episode at 2:30 p.m. will be the final one scheduled.
Since that first event, MCHD has provided 202 COVID-19 updates on Facebook Live. As part of the news conferences, the initial ones took place in the Media Room at the Keeler Memorial Building. The location was later switched to MCHD’s video production studio.
Other locations have also been used. Several took place at the Alabama Cruise Terminal when MCHD’s COVID-19 Response Team was conducting mass vaccination events.
J. Mark Bryant, MCHD’s Public Information Officer, even did several episodes from his dining room when many MCHD employees were sent home in April 2020. He set up the camera, microphone, lights, and backdrop at his house in order to keep the flow of information going to the community.
Dr. Rendi Murphree, an Epidemiologist who oversees MCHD’s Bureau of Disease Surveillance and Control, became the most frequent host. Her experience of dealing with contagious diseases such as Ebola and Swine Flu as a member of the U.S. Public Health Service while working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proved invaluable.
“Translating complex science into simple prevention messages for diverse audiences is an extra-ordinary challenge during a constantly changing pandemic,” said Dr. Murphree. “We’ve done our best to provide the most current and factual information on how Mobile County residents, workers, and visitors can prevent COVID-19 infection.”
While episodes often drew a large number of viewers and comments, nothing came close to the segment on May 26, 2020. It reached an incredible 61,388 viewers with 2,200 post clicks, 1,300 shares, and 75 comments. According to Facebook, those viewing that day in the United States were from Alabama, Florida, Texas, California, New York, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Other viewers were from Vietnam, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Argentina, China, and Ukraine.
Many others shared time in front of the video camera. Along with Dr. Bernard H. Eichold II, Health Officer of Mobile County, the list from MCHD includes Dr. Laura Cepeda, Dr. Stephanie Woods-Crawford, Kelly Warren, Erin Coker, Dr. Scott Chavers, Brad Philips, Amanda Arnold, Pebbles King, and Virginia Inge.
Although MCHD will no longer schedule weekly updates, Dr. Murphree said the agency would always be prepared to return to social media broadcasts when necessary. The latest information on COVID-19 vaccination and testing events can be found by visiting www.MCHDcares.com, calling 251-410-MCHD (6243), and social media outlets.