‘It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks,’ Alabama governor says as COVID-19 cases rise

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey made an impassioned plea Thursday for people to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases spike nationwide, telling reporters in Birmingham that “the new cases in COVID are because of unvaccinated folks.”

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“Let’s be crystal clear on this issue,” Ivey said Thursday, according to WIAT. “Almost 100% 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. Y’all, we’ve got to get folks to take the shot.”

Alabama has the lowest vaccination rate in the country, according to The Washington Post. State health officials said that as of Thursday, only about 39% of Alabama’s population had received at least one dose of the available COVID-19 vaccines. About 31% of the population has so far been fully vaccinated.

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For comparison, about 56% of the U.S. population has gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while about 49% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I want folks to get vaccinated, that’s the cure. That prevents everything,” Ivey said Thursday.

Last month, an analysis by The Associated Press found that nearly all people who are now dying of COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said last week that the spike seen recently in COVID-19 cases nationwide has been driven by unvaccinated people.

>> Related: Coronavirus: ‘This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ CDC director says

On Thursday, Ivey expressed frustration over continued resistance to the vaccine. She was vaccinated against COVID-19 in December.

“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,” she said. “Folks (are) supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

More than 567,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported across Alabama, resulting in more than 11,400 deaths, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

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The United States leads the world with the most coronavirus cases and the highest death toll. Since the start of the pandemic, officials have confirmed more than 34.3 million infections and reported more than 610,000 deaths nationwide, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 192.9 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, resulting in 4.1 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.