The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: kay ivey

With Worst Inoculation Rate, Alabama Just Discarded 65,000 Vaccine Doses

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As the Delta variant nears 100 percent of coronavirus cases nationwide, Alabama continues to be the worst state in the country for getting its population vaccinated. Barely more than one in three Alabamians (34.6 percent are fully vaccinated, compared to one in two Americans (50.3 percent).

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announced Friday that one month ago there were less than 200 people in the state hospitalized with COVID-19. Today there are over 1800.

"We've had three straight days of double-digit deaths," Dr. Harris announced, the first time in months they've seen a death rate like that. They've also had four straight days of "much higher" coronavirus cases per day, now "ten times higher" than one month ago, more than 3000 per day.

The state has 1.5 million doses currently available, but more than 65,000 doses just expired, Dr. Harris told reporters, calling it a "shame" they had to be thrown out because there are people around the world desperate for vaccines.

The state's vaccination rate is increasing, now at about 10,000 doses per day.

Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey two weeks ago expressed frustration with her state's residents not acting to get vaccinated. But Dr. Harris reiterated that Gov. Ivey refuses to impose a mask mandate, making clear he disagrees with her.

"There should be universal masking regardless of vaccination status," Harris stated, noting even vaccinated people can transmit the coronavirus.

Dragging The Vaccine Refusers Out From Under The Porch

Let's say there's an outbreak of deadly parvovirus in your neighborhood. Your beloved golden retriever Red, however, goes into a full-scale panic attack at the sight or smell of a veterinarian. You know the disease is highly communicable and potentially fatal.

There's a reliable vaccine, but the dog won't listen. Runs and hides under the porch. Fights the leash like a smallmouth bass on a hook. Rolls over on his back and has to be dragged, panting and drooling. Maybe even bites the hand that feeds him.

God forbid you should force the issue. No vaccine shot for Red. Even a dog has his rights, after all, among them the right to die in agony while shedding the deadly virus all over the neighborhood.

Put that way, the whole national "debate" over the Covid-19 vaccine seems kind of crazy, doesn't it? When the vaccine refuser is a golden retriever, we take action because we understand that the dog can't be reasoned with.

(When I lived in the country, I learned to administer my own vaccinations. I also prevented the animals from watching Fox News. It only riles up the cows.)

That said, I agree with the Republican governor of Alabama. Asked what it would take to convince her constituents to get vaccinated—Alabama is among the least-protected in the nation—Gov. Kay Ivey responded "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 regular folks. It's the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down."

Trouble is, folks tend not to have a lot of common sense when they're frightened. Not much more than their ancestors in 14th century Europe who blamed the Black Death on Jews poisoning wells. Also on Gypsies, beggars and foreigners generally. Many lepers were put to death.

Mainly, though, it was the Jews.

Dr. Fauci isn't a Jew, but he'll do for a certain kind of fool. I think we all know the kind I mean.

My man Charles P. Pierce of Esquire found an article about an Alabama physician on AL.com. Dr. Brytney Cobia wrote a Facebook post about admitting young, previously healthy patients to a COVID ward in Birmingham.

"One of the last things they do before they're intubated is beg me for the vaccine," she wrote. "I hold their hand and tell them that I'm sorry, but it's too late."

After they die, Cobia continued: "I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same."

"They cry. And they tell me they didn't know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn't get as sick. They thought it was 'just the flu'. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can't."

She prays that people will learn.

Many white Southerners, Politico reports, "are turning down Covid-19 vaccines because they are angry that President Donald Trump lost the election and sick of Democrats in Washington thinking they know what's best."

Especially, of course, when they do.

Possibly they'll listen to Gov. Ivey or Dr. Cobia, but not soon enough, I fear. Besides, as in the 14th century, paranoia is worldwide. There was a recent anti-vaccine rally in London's Trafalgar Square, with a host of crackpots invoking imaginary, often self-contradictory horrors.

Vaccines are a Satanic plot for world domination; or they're a surveillance technology, turning your body into a 5G transmitter; or they alter your DNA; or they cause infertility. Or vaccines will just flat kill you.

Closer to home, the epicenter of the deadly pandemic surge in Arkansas, where I live, appears to be Branson, Missouri, the cornball country music capital of middle America.

"Branson has a lot of country-western shows," Dr. Marc Johnson, an epidemiologist at the University of Missouri School of Medicine told the Daily Beast."No vaccines. No masks. A bunch of people indoors and air conditioning, tightly packed, listening to music, possibly singing along, i.e. a superspreading [event]."

Yee-haw! The town's mayor has proclaimed "I DO NOT believe it's my place, or the place of any politician, to endorse, promote, or compel any person to get any vaccine." He's all about freedom and liberty, the mayor.

Only what about my freedom not to get infected because some country karaoke fan thinks Covid-19 is a hoax? Government and private employers can't force people to take the shot, but they can require them as a condition of employment. You already can't get into Yankee Stadium without proof of vaccination. NFL teams will likely require them too.

If people had any sense, you wouldn't have to drag them from under the porch. But history teaches that you must.

Alabama Republicans Target Disabled With New Voting Restrictions

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

First, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey came after women, signing into law in 2019 a bill outlawing abortions, even for victims of rape and incest, except when medically necessary. Then, she targeted transgender youth and signed into law on April 23 a bill prohibiting those children from participating in public school sports. Now, Ivey's targeting people with disabilities.

The Republican governor signed a bill into law on Wednesday to ban curbside voting and in effect make casting ballots more difficult for people with disabilities. The unfortunate law prohibits placing voting machines outside of voting places and prevents poll workers from taking ballots into or out of voting places except when done as part of the established process to transport ballots. The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Wes Allen was passed by the Alabama House of Representatives in a 74-to-25 vote on March 18 and pushed through by the Senate in a 25-to-6 vote on May 17, the last day of the legislative session, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. The ACLU of Alabama tweeted: "With our state in the middle of a devastating pandemic and economic downturn, what is the Alabama Legislature doing? Passing bills that burden or attack Alabamians."

Ivey didn't mention the curbside voting ban's potential impact on people with disabilities in her press release bragging about rubber stamping Republican Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill's voter suppression effort. "Our freedom of speech is rooted in our ability to vote," she instead said. "A strong election process is what sets our democracy apart from every other country in the world." Protecting the electoral process has become a popular guise for voter suppression tactics embraced throughout the country among Republicans, following a triple loss for the party last year in the White House and in two U.S. Senate runoff races, effectively flipping the Senate from majority Republican to majority Democratic.

Maria Schell-Cannon, a mother and educator, called the new Alabama law "disgraceful' in a tweet on Wednesday. "This doesn't prevent fraud, just makes it more difficult 4 the disabled & elderly 2 gt 2 the polls," she said in the tweet. "Sad! The GOP is destroying democracy." Randy Wilson, a real estate investor and father, tweeted on Thursday: "No lottery. No expanded medicaid. No effort to rewrite the antiquated constitution. BUT, we made it a priority on the last day in session to ban curb side voting without a single case of curbside voting or any significant voter fraud. C'mon Alabama..."

Voters and activists brought up the subject of curbside voting last year in a federal lawsuit criticizing voting laws that didn't take into account health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a federal judge sided with activists, AL.com reported. Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall, however, successfully appealed the decision, getting the U.S. Supreme Court's permission to ban curbside voting. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the dissenting opinion that Merrill "does not meaningfully dispute that the plaintiffs have disabilities, that COVID-19 is disproportionately likely to be fatal to these plaintiffs, and that traditional-in-person voting will meaningfully increase their risk of exposure."

Sotomayor also highlighted in her dissent the account of Howard Porter, Jr., a plaintiff in the case and a Black man in his 70s with asthma and Parkinson's Disease. He said in district court "many of my (ancestors) even died to vote. And while I don't mind dying to vote, I think we're past that. We're past that time." Alabama Republicans apparently disagree.

A Hot Southern Summer Of Covid-19 Begins

MOBILE, AL -- Though Gov. Kay Ivey has mostly reopened the state -- restaurants, hair and nail salons and gyms included -- cases of COVID-19 are increasing here, not declining. And Mobile County, home to a sleepy Gulf Coast port city, has led the state in confirmed cases for weeks now, though it has a smaller population than Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham.

Unfortunately, the case count -- and the death count -- will likely worsen after the bustling Memorial Day weekend, when throngs will flock to beaches, ignoring guidelines about social distancing. We have not reached our peak. The worst is not over here.

Read Now Show less

Alabama Republicans Propose To Build New Statehouse With Covid-19 Aid

Republican state senators in Alabama are considering using federal coronavirus relief funds to foot the bill for a new statehouse, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh sent a wish list of priorities to Gov. Kay Ivey for spending the $1.8 billion in relief from the CARES Act, federal funding meant to help states deal with the current coronavirus crisis.

Read Now Show less