Alabama's Republican Gov. Kay Ivey made a desperate plea for the residents of her state to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and called out people who are not vaccinated, blaming them for the rise in coronavirus cases in the state.
"Folks are supposed to have common sense," Ivey said. "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," she added. "I can encourage you to do something but I can’t make you take care of yourself."
Alabama has the lowest vaccination rate in the country. Less than 34% of the state's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to 48.8% of the United States population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alabama is one of the only states in the country with less than 40% of the population fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the state reported nearly 8,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
"The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks," Ivey said, adding: "Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks."
"And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks," the Republican continued. "These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain."
In one exchange with a reporter which got a lot of attention online, a reporter asked Gov. Ivey what it would take to get more people vaccinated; Ivey replied, "I don’t know, you tell me!"
"I've done all I know how to do," she replied, when asked if she bears any responsibility to get the COVID-19 situation in the state under control.
Despite her plea, Gov. Ivey said earlier this week that there are no plans to implement a mask mandate in schools in the state, despite the recommendation of a top pediatrician group urging all people older than two years of age wear masks in schools.
Ivey ended the state's mask mandate in April, one month before the CDC updated its guidance that fully vaccinated people would not need to wear masks. When asked by a reporter Thursday what it would take to require a mask mandate again, Ivey replied, "I want folks to get vaccinated ... why would we want mess around with just temporary stuff?"
"It's safe, it's effective, the data proves that it works, doesn't cost anything," Ivey, who received both doses of the vaccine in December, said. "It saves lives."