The governor of Alabama, the least vaccinated state in the United States, has blamed “unvaccinated people” for the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.
Kay Ivey said “people should use common sense” when asked by a reporter what it would take to get more people in the state to get vaccinated.
“It is time to blame the unvaccinated people, not the normal people. It’s the unvaccinated people who let us down, ”she said at a press conference on Friday.
When asked if she saw it as her responsibility as governor to try to get the situation under control, Ivey said, “I’ve done all I can.”
“I can encourage you to do something, but I can’t get you to take care of yourself,” continued the Republican governor.
The comments may represent some of Ivey’s sternest words about the delayed introduction of vaccines in her state, but also highlight the swirling debate in the U.S. between encouragement and mandates on issues such as the wearing of masks and vaccinations.
Several states have taken steps to ban so-called vaccination cards or to prohibit employees from having to be vaccinated in workplaces. Alabama is one of them.
Ivey signed a bill in May banning public institutions and private companies from requesting vaccination records. But Fort Rucker, a military base in the state, this month ordered troops to provide evidence that they have been vaccinated so they are not allowed to wear face masks on the premises.
Alabama has fully vaccinated 33.9 percent of its population, which is the lowest immunization protection in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, one of the best college football teams in the state has managed to vaccinate nearly 90 percent of its players, according to its coach.
Public health officials have been warning for weeks that communities with low vaccination rates are most susceptible to Covid-19, and particularly the more transmissible Delta variant. Several states with low vaccination coverage such as Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi have some of the highest per capita case rates of new coronavirus in the United States.
Alabama has recorded an average of 19.5 new cases per 100,000 over the past week, according to the CDC. This is the ninth-highest per capita rate among the US states and the highest number of daily infections since mid-February.