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The Doctor-Botanist Couple Healing a Community in the Rural South

In Alabama’s Black Belt, where COVID rates are high and hospitals are understaffed, Dr. Marlo Paul and her plant biologist husband, Anthony, are making house calls and providing free herbal remedies from their own farm.

When Ruby Evans Moss called on Dr. Marlo Paul this spring, the schoolteacher had nowhere to turn. Her husband, Adolphus Moss, a deacon and office employee who farmed in his spare time, was hospitalized with COVID-19.

Moss was told to quarantine at home despite feeling ill because her rural hospital had run out of tests and PPE. Her primary care doctor’s office was shuttered and the nearest city hospital was a 70-mile drive from her tiny Alabama Black Belt community of Bellamy.

Within days, Moss tested positive for COVID-19 at a mobile testing unit, as did her two sisters, a cousin, her best friend’s husband, and a co-worker. A few days later, her husband passed away.

“It was happening so fast,” said Moss. “So many of our family members, friends, and neighbors getting sick.”