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Alabama Democrats call on Gov. Ivey to work with feds to boost vaccinations

Ivey said she plans to fight President Joe Biden’s order to have more Alabama workers vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly.

The executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party on Friday called for Gov. Kay Ivey to “quit playing your political games” and to work with President Joe Biden’s administration to get more Alabamians vaccinated. 

Ivey on Friday said she’ll fight Biden’s order that businesses with more than 100 workers must get their employees vaccinated against COVID-19 or test them weekly. 

“A conference call with Republican governors just wrapped up. President Biden has overreached with these new mandates, and we’re united in fighting back. I’m partnering alongside my conservative colleagues across the country in this fight. This is a fight for businesses, our hardworking men and women, and our American liberties,” Ivey said in a statement Friday. 

“I encourage Alabamians to take the vaccine – have been since the beginning, but we’re never going to mandate it,” Ivey continued. “And we certainly aren’t going to allow Washington, D.C., and this president to tell Alabama what to do. Here in Alabama, we don’t put up with that nonsense.”

Wade Perry, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, in a statement said Ivey’s hypocrisy is astounding. 

“Alabama receives $6,694 per resident from the federal government annually, the seventh highest in the nation for a total of $65.8 billion. We are home to federal agencies, federal contractors, and there are over 50,000 Alabamians employed by the federal government. Alabama couldn’t function without Washington,” Perry said.

“Further, Ivey requested and received emergency federal assistance that is currently on the ground in Alabama saving lives in rural hospitals, as well as portable morgues to stack the bodies of dead Alabamians who died because of her lack of leadership and refusal to expand Medicaid,” Perry continued. 

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“Now is not the time for feigned outrage or political rhetoric. Getting mad and throwing a tantrum is not what leaders do. We’ve needed real leadership throughout this pandemic and Kay Ivey has failed us. 12,552 Alabamians have died from COVID-19. For these neighbors, there will be no more birthdays, weddings, graduations, and holidays celebrated – only an empty seat at the family table for a generation,” Perry said. “Governor, quit playing your political games and work with Washington to find solutions to get folks to take the shot. Lives are on the line. It’s time to be a leader, not a Wallace wannabe.”

Biden’s announcement Thursday would impact about 80 million American workers.  Failure to comply would carry penalties for those companies of $14,000 per violation. 

Biden is also signing an executive order mandating COVID vaccinations of the approximately 17 million workers in healthcare facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid. The plan also calls for all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated, with few exceptions.

“We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers,” Biden said Thursday. 

Biden’s plan also calls for state governors to require vaccinations for teachers and school staff. 

“Currently, nine states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have vaccination requirements for K-12 school staff, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington,” according to a White House document. 

Vaccinations have increase in Alabama in recent weeks, but the state is tied with two other states for the second lowest percentage of fully vaccinated residents in the nation, at 39.9 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Alabama K-12 schools saw 8,428 confirmed COVID-19 cases among students and staff this week, after recording 9,195 last week and 4,337 the first week of school. 

“We are a month in school and our positivity rate is 300 percent what it was last year at the very worst week,” said State Superintendent Eric Mackey on Thursday. 

There is no statewide mask mandate for schools or for the public. Gov. Kay Ivey has said she’ll not issue another such order. Mackey said last week approximately 90 percent of the state’s schools are now requiring students and staff to wear masks. Many systems began the year with masks being optional, but outbreaks resulted in most reversing course. Some of those that are now requiring masks are going back to making them optional again, Mackey said Thursday. 

Alabama hospitals on Friday had 47 more patients needing ICU bed care than the state had beds, according to the Alabama Hospital Association. Teams of active Department of Defense medical workers were in South Alabama this week and last, assisting in hospitals overrun with COVID-19 patients. 

The Republican National Committee has said it plans to sue the Biden administration over the new measures, CNN reported. 

“Have at it. Look, I am so disappointed that, particularly some of the Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,” Biden told reporters Friday. “We’re playing for real here, this isn’t a game, and I don’t know of any scientist out there in this field that doesn’t think it makes considerable sense to do the six things I’ve suggested.”

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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