Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey blasts unvaccinated residents

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey blasts unvaccinated residents

Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey lashed out Thursday at her unvaccinated constituents, telling reporters they were “letting us down” while White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed Friday the Biden administration was not trying to “place blame” for a rise in cases on those who had not yet gotten a shot.

“Let’s be crystal clear about this issue,” Ivey said. “Media, I want you to start reporting the facts. The few cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100 percent of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths certainly are occurring with unvaccinated folks.”

“These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain,” she said. “We’ve got to get folks to take the shot. The vaccine is the greatest weapon we have to fight COVID. There’s no question about that.”

According to data from the Mayo Clinic, just 41.6 percent of Alabamians have received at least one vaccine dose, the fifth-lowest percentage of any state in the country. In addition, just 33.9 percent of the state’s population is considered fully vaccinated, the joint-lowest percentage in the country along with Mississippi.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says she can only encourage “unvaccinated folks” to get the COVID-19 vaccine right now.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says she can only encourage “unvaccinated folks” to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
AP Photo/Kim Chandler, File

When asked what it would take to get more people to take the vaccine, Ivey answered: “I don’t know. You tell me.”

“Folks are supposed to have common sense,” the governor continued. “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.”

Alabama is currently lagging behind in COVID-19 vaccinations, with less than half of its population receiving at least one dose.
Alabama is currently lagging behind in COVID-19 vaccinations, with less than half of its population receiving at least one dose.
AP Photo/Jay Reeves

The number of COVID-19 cases in the US has nearly tripled over the previous two weeks. Alabama is one of 11 states to average more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases over the previous seven days, along with Florida, California, Texas, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Arizona, New York and North Carolina.

Of those 11 states, the Mayo Clinic found, only California (63.5 percent) and New York (61.9 percent) had more than 60 percent of their eligible residents receive at least one vaccine dose. Florida, which had the highest seven-day average number of new cases at more than 8,000, had the next-highest vaccination rate, with 56 percent of residents receiving at least one dose.

Dr. Lynn Ridgeway, a pulmonologist, receives a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama on Dec. 17, 2020.
Dr. Lynn Ridgeway receives the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama, on Dec. 17, 2020.
Dan Busey /The TimesDaily via AP

In five of the 11 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Missouri — fewer than half the state’s population had received at least one vaccine dose.

The White House has used several tactics to encourage more Americans to get the vaccine. During a CNN town hall Wednesday, President Biden proclaimed the pandemic was only happening “for those who haven’t gotten a vaccination.”

Alabamians work at a mass vaccination site operated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham on May 18, 2021, in Hoover, Alabama.
Workers at a mass vaccination site operated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham on May 18, 2021, in Hoover, Alabama.
AP Photo/Jay Reeves

“What I say to people who are worried about a new pandemic is get vaccinated. If you’re vaccinated, even if you do catch the virus, quote, unquote … If you do, you’re not likely to get sick, you’re probably gonna be symptomless, you’re not going to be in a position where your life is in danger,” he added.

Last week, Psaki caused outrage when she disclosed that the White House was flagging “problematic” Facebook posts about the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine as part of an attempt to crack down on health “misinformation.”

President Joe Biden claims the pandemic is still ongoing among unvaccinated Americans.
President Joe Biden claims the pandemic is still ongoing among unvaccinated Americans.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File

When asked Friday whether the White House should be coming down harder on unvaccinated people, Psaki said the administration is “not here to place blame or threats; we’re here to provide accurate information.”

“We understand her frustration, and we understand the frustration of leaders out there and public voices who are trying to say the right thing, advocate for the efficacy of the virus, save people in their communities,” said the press secretary, who also shut down any talk of a federal vaccine mandate during her daily briefing.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the Biden administration would not disturb unvaccinated people into getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the Biden administration would not disturb unvaccinated people into getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Getty Images

“That’s not the role of the federal government; that is the role that institutions, private-sector entities, and others may take,” she said. “That certainly is appropriate. Also, local communities are going to take steps they need to take in order to protect people in their communities … What our role is and what we are going to continue to do is make the vaccine available. We’re going to continue to work in partnership to fight misinformation. And we’re going to continue to advocate and work in partnership with local officials and trusted voices to get the word out.”

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