Coronavirus: Talladega Superspeedway opening track to people who participate in testing, vaccination

TALLADEGA COUNTY, Ala. — Health officials in Alabama are inviting people to “join the race to end COVID-19,” offering those who get vaccinated or tested at an upcoming event the chance to drive two laps on the Talladega Superspeedway.

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Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health announced people aged 16 and older who attend the May 15 event at the racetrack and get tested for or vaccinated against COVID-19 will be offered “the thrill of driving their car or truck on the 2.66-mile track.” According to officials, participants will get to drive behind a pace car “at highway speed, including the 33-degree-high banks.”

The drive-through event, sponsored by the Talladega Superspeedway, the Alabama National Guard, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC Foundation and the Alabama Department of Public Health, will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 15.

Participants will be asked to sign a consent form before taking to the track. People aged 16 to 18 who want to drive on the Talladega Superspeedway will need to have a parent or legal guardian in the car with them during the drive, officials said.

As of Monday, nearly 410,500 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed across Alabama, with about 120,600 more probable cases identified, according to figures from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Nearly 11,000 people are estimated to have died of the viral infection in the state.

The U.S. continues to lead the world with the highest number of COVID-19 cases at 32.7 million, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. More than 581,000 people have died as a result of the virus nationwide. Globally, 158.4 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in nearly 3.3 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

As of Sunday, the last date for which data was available, about 46% of the U.S. population had gotten at least one dose of one of the available COVID-19 vaccines. So far, 114.5 million people have been fully vaccinated nationwide, amounting to about 34% of the population.