Governor Of Least Vaccinated State: “It’s Time To Start Blaming Unvaccinated Folks”

Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Thursday said the unvaccinated are "choosing a horrible lifestyle," but doubled down on her resistance to issuing a mask mandate for the state’s public schools.

Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) attends homecoming festivities at a college football game between Alabama and Arkansas on October 26, 2019. | AP
Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) attends homecoming festivities at a college football game between Alabama and Arkansas on October 26, 2019. | AP

Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) said Thursday that new cases in her state are “because of unvaccinated folks.” 

Speaking to reporters in Birmingham, AL, Gov. Ivey urged Alabamians to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, calling the jabs “the greatest weapon we have to fight COVID.” 

“Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks,” Gov. Ivey said. “And the deaths certainly are occurring with unvaccinated folks.” 

According to the Alabama Department of Health (ADPH), as of July 23, there are 727 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in Alabama, up from 204 patients at the start of the month, and nearly 12% of the tests conducted in the week ending July 17 were positive. ADPH has said that unvaccinated people make up the vast majority of deaths since April 2021.

Only 39.7% of people in Alabama who are 12 years and older are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, making it the only state in the country where fewer than 40% of the eligible population is vaccinated.  

Gov. Ivey, who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine in December, said people who are not getting the vaccine are “choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain.” 

"It’s safe, effective, the data proves that it works, it doesn’t cost you anything,” Gov. Ivey said.

When pressed by a reporter about what she can do as governor to increase the rate of vaccination in her state, Gov. Ivey said: “I don’t know. You tell me.” 

“Folks are supposed to have common sense,” she said. “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

Gov. Ivey continued, saying she’s done everything she knows how to do to encourage her constituents to get a vaccine. Yet, while the state is offering minor incentives for vaccination, including a TikTok contest offering $250 in Visa gift cards to four people between the ages of 13 and 29, Gov. Ivey has said there’s no need for further incentives. 

“The best thing for us to do is just encourage everybody to use that common sense, practice personal responsibility and make themselves and their families safe,” Gov. Ivey has said, according to AL.com. “Take the shot.”

In May, Gov. Ivey signed a bill banning “vaccine passports” — a government-issued document certifying an individual is vaccinated — and banning businesses in the state from refusing "to provide any goods or services, or refuse to allow admission, to a customer based on the customer’s immunization status.” 

In a statement after signing the bill, Gov. Ivey said she is “supportive of a voluntary vaccine and by signing this bill into law, I am only further solidifying that conviction.” 

And despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics that every student above the age of 2 should wear a mask in school, Gov. Ivey said she will not mandate masks in Alabama public schools. 

“That’s left up to every school in the district to make that decision,” Gov. Ivey said Thursday. 

A harrowing Facebook post from an Alabama doctor

Brytney Cobia, a doctor in Birmingham, wrote a Facebook post that’s been shared 14k times describing her interactions with younger patients hospitalized for COVID-19 who, before being intubated, “beg [her] for the vaccine.”

“I hold their hand and tell them that I'm sorry, but it's too late,” Dr. Cobia wrote in the July 18 post. “A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same.”

Dr. Cobia continues in the post, saying family members tell her they thought the coronavirus was “a hoax” or that it was “political.” 

“They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn't get as sick,” Dr. Cobia wrote. “They thought it was 'just the flu'. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can't. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine.”

CDC Director urges Americans to get vaccinated at ‘pivotal moment’ of pandemic

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that in the past week, the nation averaged 37,700 new COVID-19 cases per day.

“This represents an increase of 53% from the prior seven-day average,” Dr. Walensky said at a July 22 White House COVID-19 Response Team & Task Force press briefing, adding that the U.S. is “at another pivotal moment in this pandemic.” 

She said that 83% of the new cases in the country are caused by the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than the other variants that have circulated in the U.S. in the past. 

“It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20 year career,” Dr. Walensky warned. 

The people at the highest risk of infection? Unvaccinated people who live in areas with low vaccination rates and high transmission, Dr. Walensky said.

The current vaccines offer people a high degree of protection against severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the Delta variant, according to public health officials.

“The threat is now predominantly only to the unvaccinated,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said at the same press briefing. “The data is clear, the case increases are concentrated in communities with low vaccination rates.”