More than 15,000 Alabamians have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, roughly half of them since vaccines were readily available. Yet Gov. Kay Ivey, who showed strong leadership early in the pandemic, is now actively sabotaging efforts to bring the pandemic to an end.

We know vaccines work, a fact that is abundantly obvious even locally. Hospitalized COVID patients are rarely vaccinated, and those in the ICU are almost never vaccinated. Unvaccinated people who contract COVID are 11 times more likely to die of the disease than those who have been vaccinated.

President Joe Biden in September issued an executive order that he knew would be unpopular, but that he likewise knew would save lives and prevent more disruption to the economy. Among other steps, the order required that federal workers and employees of federal contractors get vaccinated. It was a commonsense measure aimed not only at protecting the unvaccinated, but the vaccinated as well. It also, importantly, increases workplace efficiency by reducing the problems caused by COVID outbreaks.

Ivey could have remained silent about the order. Given Alabama’s tremendous reliance on federal employees and contractors, and especially the ongoing debate about whether the U.S. Space Command headquarters will relocate to Huntsville, she could even have vocally supported it.

Instead, she went out of her way to undermine it.

She issued an executive order of her own that is necessarily toothless — federal law has supremacy over state law — but that increased divisions between the state and federal government and between employers and employees. Titled, “Combating Overreaching COVID-19 Mandates,” the order requires state-affiliated entities to cooperate with a lawsuit challenging Biden’s order, prohibits them from penalizing any company or individual for failure to abide by Biden’s order, and bizarrely requires that if federal law requires them to include the vaccine mandate in any contract they must notify the business or individual “that the State of Alabama does not approve, condone, or otherwise endorse the inclusion of the provision.”

Alabama has lots of federal employees and federal contractors. It also has the third worst vaccination rate (44%) in the nation. The federal order requiring that federal employees and contractors take the COVID vaccine would have a disproportionately positive effect in Alabama, saving lives and reducing economic disruption.

Even as Ivey says she wants her constituents to protect themselves against COVID, the effect of her executive order is to encourage those who rely upon misinformation in rejecting the vaccine.

As seen at United Launch Alliance in Decatur, Ivey’s order also creates unhealthy divisions between employers and their employees. Even before the president required vaccines for employees of federal contractors, ULA saw the wisdom of such mandates. Now, egged on in part by Ivey, some ULA employees are staging protests and willing to get fired rather than take a vaccine that would protect them, their families and their co-workers.

Snubbing her nose at the federal government may win Ivey a few extremist votes in her reelection campaign, but it endangers the lives of Alabama citizens, increases the likelihood of economic disruption and jeopardizes the federal contracts upon which the state so heavily relies.

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(2) comments

Evelyn Huggins

Of all those who are have died from covid, MANY had pre-existing co-morbidity factors. Heart issues, cancers, overweight, diabetes, weak immune systems etc..Dying with covid and of covid are being over attributed to dying of covid as those these people were all perfectly healthy. Overdose deaths, lockdown mental issues, suicides from depression ..Those should be classified as Covid policy deaths .

joseph walker

Ms. Evelyn, I agree that the overwhelming majority of people who died of covid have serious unrelated health issues. I also don't agree with the vaccine mandate so how in the world can you require it to give to your children. I, myself, am vaccinated, but I don't mind being a human guinea pig. The government can't expect you to take their information seriously about the safeness of the vaccine when they lie so much. Common sense tells you that they have no idea if it is safe long term. It takes years and years of trials before they ever clear any vaccine for human consumption. So this miracle came out in less than a year and they tell you all is well and you will have no side effects long term. Let's not even get into the unconstitutional mandates that the Biden admin is imposing on private businesses. Take it or get fired. Its totalitarianism at its finest.

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