Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has had enough of residents of her state who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, and did not hold back in expressing her ire this week.
‘Folks are supposed to have common sense. It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.’
— Alabama Gov. Key Ivey
Ivey’s frustrated comments to reporters at the opening of a tech company in Birmingham on Thursday came after Alabama counted 500 COVID-19 deaths since April 1. Of that number, just 20 were fully vaccinated, leaving the remaining 96% unvaccinated, according to Alabama.com.
Alabama’s seven-day average of new cases of the deadly virus came to 1,133 on Thursday, according to a New York Times tracker, up 311% from two weeks ago. Hospitalizations are up 92% in the same time frame. Some 34% of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated, making it the only remaining state with a lower than 40% vaccination rate, and far below the overall U.S. rate of 48.8%. Just 42% of Alabamians have received at least one shot of a two-dose vaccine.
Those numbers are worryingly low at a time when the highly transmissible delta variant is sending cases rising in all 50 states. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said this week that delta accounts for 83% of cases recently sequenced in the U.S. The World Health Organization has warned that the variant will likely dominate globally in the coming months.
“I want folks to get vaccinated,” said Ivey, describing vaccines as the “greatest weapon” we have to fight COVID.
“That’s the cure. That prevents everything. Why do we want to mess around with just temporary stuff? We don’t need to just encourage people to go halfway with curing this disease. Let’s get it done. We know what it takes to get it done. Get a shot in your arm. I’ve done it. It’s safe. The data proves it. It doesn’t cost anything. It saves lives.”
Separately, a doctor in Alabama told a poignant and distressing tale on Facebook earlier this week, that was also reported by Alabama.com, of patients begging for a vaccine when on the point of intubation.
“I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late,” said Dr. Brytney Cobia of Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham.