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After a successful 2023 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention in Birmingham, Alabama, several attendees have opened up about testing positive for COVID post the Aug. 2- Aug. 6 events.

“I did test positive for COVID after the convention,” Marquita Pool-Eckert, the first Black woman in a senior producer position at CBS News, told Richard Prince of Journal-isms. 

During the convention, Pool-Eckert won the Chuck Stone Lifetime Achievement Award. 

“By Tuesday [Aug. 8], my symptoms included coughing, sore throat, mild headache, occasional sneezing and at night, chills. I took the COVID test on Tuesday,” Pool-Eckert said.  “The [doctor] prescribed Paxlovid and I was feeling much better by Thursday.”

Pool-Eckert is one of many who disclosed they contracted COVID-19 after the NABJ convention.  

While the convention activities might appear to have been a super-spreader, the fact that many people contracted coronavirus should not be a disparagement on NABJ, but rather, a wake-up call that COVID-19 is still around.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) as of Aug. 10, globally, there have been nearly 1.5 million new COVID-19 cases and more than 2500 deaths reported over the last 28 days– revealing an 80% increase in cases and 57% decrease in deaths.

The United States, according to WHO’s “Weekly Epidemiological and Operational Updates,” counts among one of the countries with the highest new hospitalizations due to COVID-19, with 27, 693 hospitalizations in the past 28 days, in comparison to 24,886.

WHO considers XBB.1.16, XBB.1.5, and EG.5, three variants of interest (VOI), according to its most recent report, with XBB.1.16, remaining the most prominent VOI globally. However, experts are reporting EG.5 cases on a major rise.

This is to say, COVID isn’t over.  Masking, particularly in crowded places and when using public transportation, can still be helpful. Further, new COVID-19 vaccine boosters are available.  

While it is great COVID-19 related deaths are down, there’s still been an increase in diagnoses and hospitalizations around the country and world.

That said, if you’re feeling under the weather, please try to find a COVID-19 test, and socially distance yourself until you’re sure that you are negative. 

And if you can’t get your hands on a test, if at all possible, just stay home.

Protecting ourselves and our neighbors’ health is still important, particularly as we gear up for the back-to-school season. 

We want our students, school staff and families to return to school healthy and ready to tackle another school year.

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