Despite the perception by folks in other parts of the country, most of us in Alabama can write and read. But actions by our friends and neighbors are starting to reflect badly on us.

The Centers for Disease Control is reporting 55.6 percent of all Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot.

Here in Alabama, where we rank last in vaccinations, only 34 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, we reportedly had more than 11,000 new COVID-19 infections over the past 14 days, making our positivity rate 11.7 percent. This is a four percent increase from the previous week.

Numbers do not lie. Whether you vote red or blue, the virus does not differentiate. We are headed for another long, painful winter.

As the number of people getting vaccinated has slowed down, the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have risen during the past month. Cases are rising in 26 states, including Alabama.

During a press conference last week, Republican Governor Kay Ivey was asked what it would take to boost Alabama’s low vaccination numbers. Ivey responded in her typical no-nonsense way.

“Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks,” Ivey quipped.

Thank you, Me maw, for saying it out loud!

Almost immediately, critics took exception to her comments.

They noted that Ivey lifted the state’s mandate a month before the CDC’s recommended timeline and signed a law barring private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination.

Neither of those are remotely related to her point.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Ivey’s comments. Psaki said, “I don’t think our role is to place blame, but to provide information about the risks of not being vaccinated.”

So, okay, Jen, when that does not work, then what?

The people of Alabama are informed and still not getting vaccinated.

It is not like they are unaware of the risks or that there is a shortage of vaccines. People are making a choice to not get the vaccine.

Governor Ivey is right. You can not make people take care of themselves. Or anyone else, evidently.

They balked at masks mandates, were livid about lockdowns and yet, will not participate in the only resource available to stop the spread of the virus.

According to President Biden, the Unites States vaccine effort just needs new messengers.

Sorry, Joe, but I disagree.

I believe the good Lord himself could tell them it is the right thing to do, and they would still reject it.

Ivey is among only a handful of Republican leaders who have begun to speak out about the need for people to get vaccinated. Until now, most were either ambivalent or negative in their opinions.

But time and reason has changed some minds, thankfully. And some are even being criticized for their change of heart.

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ push to get people vaccinated was met with some resistance from his own party. After praising the effectiveness of the vaccine to convince his constituents to get vaccinated, DeSantis was accused of taking bribes by a conservative podcaster, who called the governor a “sellout.”

Resistance to vaccines has been concentrated among Republican voters and led by GOP politicians and popular conservative media personalities.

Even those guys have changed their tune.

Fox News Host Sean Hannity, who reportedly called the pandemic a “hoax”, early on, recently asked people to take COVID-19 seriously and that it “absolutely makes sense for Americans to get vaccinated.”

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell warned people that if the shots are not taken, “we are going to be back in a situation that we were in last year.”

Some Republicans believe former president, Donald Trump, has not done enough to promote the vaccine after receiving his.

 If Alabamians will not listen to Alabama Coach Nick Saban, then the Donald can forget it.

The threat to all of us is real. The emergence of a new COVID-19 fueled by the Delta variant is here. This more infectious strain has led to rising case numbers and putting a strain on some hospitals once again.

Bringing back mask mandates and limiting gatherings will not be an option because the areas where the variant is surging are ones where laws have been passed prohibiting such measures.

One California county supervisor called unvaccinated people “selfish”, saying, “we can’t reach herd immunity if the herd will not get their shots.”

According to the statistics, 99.5 percent of the new cases are among the unvaccinated population.

Gov. Ivey is justified in her anger. And like other strong, southern women, she is not afraid to speak her mind. Even if it is not politically correct.

Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at anitamcgill99@gmail.com.

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