Alabama coach Nick Saban appeared in a public service announcement from Alabama Public Health on Wednesday, calling for college football fans to get vaccinated ahead of the 2021 season.
“College football fans and players both want full stadiums this fall,” Saban says in the 30-second PSA. “Let’s make sure we can safely make this happen by getting vaccinated. Please get your COVID-19 vaccine.”
The most influential individual in Alabama, Saban carries weight in the state’s push to get more people vaccinated. That’s especially true considering that the 69-year-old contracted the coronavirus late last November, forcing him to miss the Iron Bowl. He produced a false positive earlier in the year, which nearly resulted in his absence from the Georgia game.
He taped the PSA while attending the Regions Tradition Pro-Am in Birmingham, Ala., earlier in May; according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, he was joined by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, former Auburn basketball star Charles Barkley and former Auburn coach-turned-U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, among others, in calling for more vaccinations.
Per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama ranks 28th nationally with 2.9 million total vaccinations administered; that ranking falls all the way to 57th, however, when accounting for vaccinations per 100,000 residents (59,258, behind only Mississippi, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia). The District of Columbia, Indian Health Service and each of the U.S.’s five territories rank ahead of the state.
Alabama also ranks second nationally in average cases per day over the past week (as of Wednesday, May 19), producing 134.2 cases per day.
The Crimson Tide operated at 50 percent capacity for the team’s A-Day spring game, attracting roughly 47,000 fans to the stands. It was the largest single gathering since the pandemic began.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said the university plans for Bryant-Denny Stadium to operate at 100 percent capacity for the 2021 college football season, though that certainly could be subject to change depending on Alabama’s coronavirus cases by then. Alabama opens its season on Sept. 4 at 3:30 p.m. ET against Miami at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Tide’s first home game is the following week, on Sept. 11, against Mercer.
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