BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Thursday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey addressed concerns about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the state and its low vaccination rate.
In the last two weeks, the state has seen over 9,900 cases of COVID-19. In Jefferson County alone, over 1,000 new cases have been reported.
Health officials and the governor herself cite the low vaccination rate as a major hurdle in trying to combat the virus and the new, highly contagious Delta variant.
“Let’s be crystal clear about this issue. And media, I want you to start reporting the facts. The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain,” Gov. Ivey said during an event for Landing in Birmingham Thursday.
When asked how the state can get more shots into the arms of residents, Ivey did not hold back her displeasure with the lack of success previous plans have had.
“I don’t know, you tell me. Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the vaccinated folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down,” she said. “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.
Ivey also repeated her statement on schools coming back during the pandemic, saying that it is up to the individual schools to make decisions on mask mandates.
The Jefferson County Department of Health also addressed the rise in recent cases and vaccine hesitancy. County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said that with the rise in cases and hospitalizations, a rise in deaths is almost certain.
“The tragic thing is that almost all of these deaths will have been prevented if only those people had been vaccinated,” Wilson said.
Ivey encouraged Alabamians to get vaccinated, calling it “the greatest weapon we have to fight COVID.” Although she said she has no plans to implement a mask mandate again in the state.
“I want folks to get vaccinated, that’s the cure. That prevents everything. Why would we want to mess around with this temporary stuff? We don’t need to encourage people to go halfway in curing this disease. Let’s get it done. We know what it takes to get it done, that’s to get a shot in the arm,” she said.