It’s tempting to give Gov. Kay Ivey a pass on this resurging COVID-19 situation because she’s right about a few things.
It’s true that there are plenty of FREE vaccines available to everyone. It’s true that by now that every English-speaking human alive should know that the vaccine is safe and effective — far safer than the regular flu vaccine and far more effective than the regular flu vaccine. And everyone should know that getting the vaccine is the safest and most effective way to avoid getting coronavirus, including the new Delta variant that is far more dangerous than the regular ol’ coronavirus.
These are things people should know. So, it’s easy to see Ivey’s point when she says she’s just going to rely on telling people to get the virus and encouraging them to act responsibly to save themselves and their families.
But here’s the problem: They’re not.
They’re not acting responsibly. They’re not protecting their families and the most vulnerable among us. They don’t seem to much care about facts and science.
As a result, here we sit with the nation’s worst vaccine rate, a growing number of COVID cases and a whole bunch of medical experts telling everyone that trouble is brewing.
The reason trouble is brewing is that the new Delta variant is running wild. Recent figures from the Alabama Department of Public Health show that more than 70 percent of new COVID cases are Delta variants. And those new cases were up 80 percent at one point last week.
It spreads easier and faster. And it appears to cause worse illness and likely increases chances for death. A study in Scotland found that hospitalization rates were 85 percent higher with the Delta variant.
Public health officers all over the country are sounding alarms about this new strain, and it is particularly worrisome to those in red states, where our lowest vaccination rates are.
Earlier this week, Mississippi’s public health officer was pleading with residents to get vaccines, noting huge COVID outbreaks — all linked to the Delta variant — and noted that seven children were currently in ICU rooms in Mississippi hospitals, some of them on ventilators.
And Mississippi is somehow doing slightly better vaccinating people than we are.
So, I’m sorry, but it’s time for the governor, the lieutenant governor and the leaders of this state to take a stand and do something. You can no longer get a free pass because the people don’t want to.
The people of this state haven’t wanted to do a lot of things. They were forced and coerced and cajoled into doing them because they were the right things. And this is too.
Ivey knows what’s right. Will Ainsworth knows what’s right. Everyone with a smidge of common sense knows what’s right.
A full-court push to get people vaccinated.
A campaign to explain the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. A campaign to explain the dangers of not getting vaccinated. A campaign to explain the danger of the Delta variant of COVID.
Your faces. Your voices.
Give away football tickets. Give away cars. Give away money.
Because every single one of you knows that if you don’t do it, people are going to die. Businesses will suffer, with or without a shutdown. Children will lose more school time — and if what’s happening in Mississippi is any indication, they might lose way more than that.
There is plenty of federal money to pay for these campaigns. There is plenty of federal money to implement programs that take the vaccines directly to people.
Should you be forced to do this? No. Absolutely not. I mean, sweet Jesus, we had more than 11,000 people in this state die last year from COVID. More than 600,000 people in America have died from the virus.
And here I am writing a column asking state leaders to build campaigns that encourage residents to get a simple and safe shot to protect themselves and their loved ones. It makes zero sense whatsoever.
There are people out here protesting the vaccine.
Hell, lawmakers in Tennessee have essentially banned all vaccine outreach — including for non-COVID vaccines — aimed at children. Just a little reminder here: vaccines have been required for children to attend public schools for decades, and those vaccines have proven safe and very, very effective, as evidenced by the fact that no one is dying of polio currently.
But you know what people are dying of?
And almost every single one of those deaths — better than 95 percent in the country and in Alabama — were unvaccinated people.
Yet, somehow, the biggest freakout in Alabama right now isn’t over where to find a vaccine. It’s people worried that some government worker might knock on their door and attempt to convince them to get the vaccine.
Just let the insanity of that wash over you for a moment.
So, yeah, I understand that for Alabama lawmakers, the politically safe thing to do right now is exactly what Ivey is doing — nothing. To let Fox News and OAN and Newsmax lead these sheep to slaughter by telling them what they want to believe, and just keep your mouth shut and not risk the wrath of imbeciles by daring to counter the wisdom spewed by Whitebread Fishsticks on his nightly network anger hour.
But there comes a time when the responsibility of the office outweighs the politically advantageous approach. There comes a time when you have to be human and simply do what’s right.
That time is now. Do something.