“We don’t need to encourage people to go halfway in curing this disease,” Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) retorted when reporters asked her about imposing a new mask mandate. Alabama has the lowest vaccination uptake rate in the country, and not coincidentally has a new spike in cases and increase in hospitalizations. Ivey showed her frustration last night at an event in Birmingham, declaring that “it’s time to blame the unvaccinated” who refuse to step up and join the fight against COVID-19:
“Let’s be crystal clear about this issue. And media, I want you to start reporting the facts. 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,” Gov. Ivey said during an event for Landing in Birmingham Thursday.
When asked how the state can get more shots into the arms of residents, Ivey did not hold back her displeasure with the lack of success previous plans have had.
“I don’t know, you tell me. 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 said. “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.” …
“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,” she said.
I guess Ivey apparently doesn’t believe in the soft sell to the unvaccinated. One can understand her frustration, given the sharp rise in cases. Over the past two weeks, Alabama has reported nearly 10,000 new cases of COVID-19, and Jefferson County alone accounts for over ten percent of those. The vaccines that would prevent almost all of those transmissions — and likely all of the deaths that would follow — have been in abundance now for months.
Ivey drills down to the key point on mask mandates, too. If we have abundant supplies of vaccines with real-world effectiveness at 99% or better against infection, serious symptoms, and death, why would states opt for half-measures instead? Why would they burden the vaccinated with safety measures that no longer apply to themselves, but instead protect the people who choose not to protect themselves? If the unvaccinated want to opt for masks rather than inoculations, they certainly can do so. The rest of us don’t need to be ordered to wear masks on the basis of that choice.
Paul Mirengoff asks the same question, and comes up with the same answer as Ivey. You can lead a horse to water, but if you can’t make him drink, you don’t need to ration water to other horses:
If deaths are almost exclusively among those who haven’t been vaccinated, which seems to be the case so far, the appropriate governmental response would be to encourage people at any meaningful risk to get vaccinated, but to permit them, as a matter of civil liberties, to assume the risk of not doing so.
Placing restrictions on what people who are vaccinated can do would not be an appropriate response, for they will have been shown to be protected from serious illness. Neither would placing restrictions on the unvaccinated, for they will have assumed the risk associated with that status.
“Folks are supposed to have common sense,” Ivey laments. But when they don’t, the onus should be on them — not everyone else.