Alabama governor Kay Ivey said unvaccinated residents are to blame for renewed coronavirus outbreaks in the state, in comments to reporters on Thursday.
“Almost 100 percent of the new hospitalizations are unvaccinated folks. And the deaths certainly are occurring with unvaccinated folks,” Ivey said at a press conference. “These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain. We’ve got to get folks to take the shot.”
Ivey added that coronavirus vaccines constitute “the greatest weapon we have to fight COVID, there’s no question about that.”
Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S., with just 39.7 percent of residents over the age of 12 fully vaccinated against coronavirus, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. (Almost 70 percent of residents age 65 and over are fully vaccinated.) The number of new coronavirus cases has steadily increased since the beginning of July, with a current seven-day average of 1,133 cases.
When asked what kind of push it would take to get more residents vaccinated, Ivey responded, “I don’t know. You tell me.”
“Folks are supposed to have common sense,” Ive added. “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down….I’ve done all I know how to do. I can encourage you to do something, but I can’t make you take care of yourself.”
At the same press conference, Ivey said she would not implement a statewide mask mandate and that she would prefer that Alabamans simply get a vaccine.
“Why we wanna mess around with just temporary stuff. We don’t need to encourage people to just half way with curing this disease,” Ivey said.
The governor made clear earlier this week that she does not support masking requirements for children returning to school in the fall, although school districts may choose to implement a mandate if they choose.