Alabama’s Republican governor made a plea for residents to get COVID-19 vaccines and blamed unvaccinated individuals for the rise in cases.
“We’ve got to get folks to take the shot,” said Gov. Kay Ivey in a news conference. “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 added to reporters Thursday. “Let’s get it done.”
Her comments drew pushback from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who on Friday said the federal government’s “role” is not to “blame” people for not getting vaccinated. “What we can do is provide accurate information to people who are not yet vaccinated about the risks they are incurring, not only on themselves but also the people around them.”
With Ivey’s comments, it’s not clear if she would implement any lockdown or masking orders. In May, the governor signed a bill into law that prohibits state agencies from forcing people to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to receive services or enter buildings.
Several other Republicans in recent days have called on people to get the vaccine.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, issued a warning on vaccines on Wednesday: “I want to underscore in the strongest possible manner I can … These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible.”
McConnell further suggested that COVID-19-related lockdowns might be implemented. From his comments, it’s not clear whether he’d support legislation that mandates more lockdowns or stay-at-home orders.
But some Republican lawmakers have pushed back.
“I don’t think it’s anybody’s [expletive] business whether I’m vaccinated or not,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told CNN this week. “This is ridiculous, what we’re doing. The American people are fully capable of making an educated decision about whether they want to get the vaccine or not.”
Others, including former President Donald Trump, have said that White House and Democrat officials, as well as corporate media outlets, have deployed poor messaging throughout the pandemic, which foments distrust in the vaccines.
“People are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don’t trust (Biden’s) Administration … and they certainly don’t trust the Fake News,” Trump said in a recent statement.
In late June, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would stop investigating so-called “breakthrough” COVID-19 cases involving fully vaccinated individuals. Recent CDC data says that COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in the United States over the past two weeks amid the spread of the so-called “Delta” variant.