Ivey: “Time to Start Blaming Unvaccinated Folks” for Rise in COVID-19 Cases

As Alabama lags behind most other states in COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Kay Ivey was asked by a reporter in Birmingham this week what it will take to convince more people to get shots.

“I don’t know, you tell me.” Ivey said. “Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, among Alabamians who are eligible to be vaccinated, 39.6% are fully vaccinated, while 60.1% are unvaccinated.

As of Thursday, 59 of Alabama’s 67 counties are considered at “very high risk” for COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks,” Ivey said, “Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are unvaccinated folks. And the deaths certainly are coming in unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had a different tone.

“I don’t think our role is to place blame. But what we can do is provide accurate information to people who are not yet vaccinated about the risks they are incurring, not only on themselves but also the people around them.”

Overall, Dr. Don Williamson, who’s the president of the Alabama Hospital Association and the former state health officer for Alabama, says there’s a sense of frustration because cases wouldn’t be rising if more people were vaccinated.

Only 166 people were hospitalized statewide a month ago with COVID-19. That low point has been followed by a rapid rise, and more than 500 people are being treated for the virus now. Some 11,460 people have died of COVID-19 in Alabama, the 17th highest death rate nationally.

Currently, ADPH is trying to encourage younger people to get vaccinated through a TikTok video contest, offering prize money for entries. People 13-29 are encouraged to create and submit videos describing why they chose to get the shot.

(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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