ASU’s CommUniversity COVID-19 Effort Extends to Itta Bena, Miss.

By Kenneth Mulliax

Alabama State University‚Äôs Department of Health Services has extended its COVID-19 initiatives to the state of Mississippi. True to their calling, members of ASU‚Äôs healthcare team recently traveled to Itta Bena, Miss. and put ASU’s ideals of CommUniversity into high-gear by offering free COVID¬†testing and vaccinations and educational information.

Dr. Joyce Loyd-Davis, ASU’s senior health officer, explained that she and her assistant, registered nurse Cathy Reynolds, drove to the Mississippi town in the vehicle awarded to the University last year for this very sort of outreach effort, by an Alabama Pharmacy Association grant under the auspices of the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“Nurse Reynolds and I went to Mississippi to a healthcare forum that was hosted on the campus of Mississippi Valley State as part of the ‚ÄėCommUniversity‚Äô¬†(partnering with communities beyond the ASU campus) mandate that we received from President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. beginning¬†in 2020,” Loyd-Davis said. “While there, we shared new medical updates on the disease, gave hundreds of COVID-19 tests to those present and vaccinated many others with the serum which helps alleviate¬†the sometimes life-threatening symptoms that the disease can impart.”


At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, ASU launched an aggressive and highly effective campaign to safeguard the campus from the disease. Under the leadership of President Ross and Dr. Loyd-Davis, the ASU initiative spread to Montgomery and the rest of the River Region, and eventually to the Black Belt and other rural communities, where medical resources are limited.

“President Ross started the anti-COVID medical two-pronged fight of testing and vaccinations, in partnership with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH),¬†earlier than most any other entity of which we are aware. The President also obtained the ADPH’s designation as an official COVID-19 site by March 2020, and by May, three years-ago, we began our public community testing and vaccinations with the Montgomery Housing Authority, then with the Montgomery Public School System, Hyundai Alabama and many more public entities and private individuals,” Loyd-Davis recalled.

The University’s COVID education and eradication program that was recently in Mississippi’s Itta Bena has also helped residents in Selma, Elmore County, Crenshaw County and other rural locations within Alabama.

“Thank goodness, we have a forward and fast-thinking University President and leadership team members, whose efforts have not only spared the ASU family from the extreme ravages of COVID that affected many other schools, but have also helped lift-up the outside community,” Loyd-Davis explained. “And despite the many downgrades taking place recently¬†concerning precautions, we must still test when symptoms warrant it and certainly take the vaccines just as we do each year for the flu. Precaution is so important.”