MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Even though Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said months ago she believes "unvaccinated folks" are to blame for the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, she committed to "standing in the way" of President Joe Biden’s executive order implementing vaccine mandates for many businesses.
Ivey tweeted that she will resist President Joe Biden’s new executive order — which will require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate proof of vaccinations. Unvaccinated workers can choose to undergo weekly testing.
Republican governors, like Ivey, have been staunchly against such measures. Biden said he’ll use his powers as president to get them out of the way, but Ivey is committed to fighting back.
"You bet I’m standing in the way. And if he thinks he’s going to move me out of the way, he’s got another thing coming," Ivey said Friday on her campaign Twitter account. "I’m standing as strong as a bull for Alabama against this outrageous Washington overreach. Bring it on."
Ivey has consistently been a vocal supporter of vaccinations, calling them safe and effective in her pleas to her constituents to roll up a sleeve. But she has not been the strongest ally in the country’s vaccination effort.
In May, Ivey outlawed vaccine passports in Alabama — meaning businesses and institutions cannot require proof that a patron has received a COVID-19 vaccine.
And as many states sought to incentivize vaccines with lotteries, Ivey stood in opposition, reasoning common sense was enough incentive.
Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. There was a modest increase in vaccinations in the wake Ivey’s remarks in late July, but it was nowhere near the highs seen in April.
Alabama hospitals reached the brink of capacity in August. The Alabama Hospital Association said there were no ICU beds available anywhere in the state, WBRC reported.
Also that month, an Alabama doctor announced his office would no longer treat unvaccinated people. And in July, another Alabama doctor detailed the way a lot of her patients beg for the vaccine just moments before being intubated — only to find out it’s too late.
Census records place Alabama’s population at 5.2 million people. According to the Alabama Depatment of Public Health, only 2.36 million people have received at least one dose.
Just 1.8 million Alabamians are fully vaccinated.
Many other Southern states, dominated by conservative politicians, have similar numbers. Even still, Ivey said Republican governors held a call Friday and resolved to fight back against Biden’s "overreach."
The Supreme Court has ruled on vaccine mandates many times in the past, routinely defending their legality when enforced by states, municipalities, schools and jobs.
A federal mandate has not been protected. Even so, Biden’s order targets employers, not individual people. And allowing unvaccinated workers to opt for testing may provide the legal wiggle room to see his executive order hold up in court.