Alabama Gov. Says It's Time to Blame 'Unvaccinated Folks' for COVID Rise

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) told reporters on Thursday it's "time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks," as COVID cases rose in her state, which is trailing behind the U.S. average in the vaccination race.

"Let's be crystal clear about this issue," Ivey said. "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."

The governor was in Birmingham speaking at the opening of tech company Landing's new headquarters.

Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country—with only 33.9 percent of its population vaccinated, compared to the national figure of 48.8 percent, according to CNN.

Asked how the federal government could increase the state's vaccination rate, Ivey replied, "I don't know, you tell me."

"Folks are supposed to have common sense," she continued. "But it's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the vaccinated 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."

Ivey added that the vaccines were "the greatest weapon we have to fight COVID," but said she had no plans to implement a mask mandate in Alabama.

"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," Ivey said.

Over the last two weeks, Alabama has seen over 9,000 cases of COVID, including more than 1,000 in Jefferson County alone.

Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson conceded that with the rise in cases and hospitalizations in the country, more deaths would almost certainly follow.

"The tragic thing is that almost all of these deaths will have been prevented if only those people had been vaccinated," Wilson said.

On Thursday, it was reported that over the last week, no U.S. states reported a decrease in daily COVID cases, as the Delta variant continues to spread.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, over the past week, 49 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have seen an increase in daily COVID cases of 5 percent or more.

Sweet Home Alabama sign
A sign welcomes people to the state of Alabama on May 18,2019. Governor Kay Ivey has blamed the state's rise in COVID cases on "unvaccinated folks." Seth Herald