West Virginia governor says the state will have to 'keep lining the body bags up' if COVID-19 vaccination rates don't improve
In this November 3, 2020 file photo, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice celebrates his re-election at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va. AP Photo / Chris Jackson, file
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice warned the state to prepare for more COVID-related deaths if vaccination numbers rise.
The state has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases and a slowdown in vaccination rates since July.
The governor said he did not want to prescribe vaccines for employees and said that getting the vaccine should be a choice.
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West Virginia Governor Jim Justice warned the public that more people will die from COVID-19 unless vaccination rates improve dramatically across the state.
"74 more people have died since Wednesday," said Governor Justice and informed in a press conference on Friday about the state's ongoing fight against the corona virus. "And they will keep dying. That is all."
"We're going to just keep lining up the body bags, and we're going to line them up and lining them up," he continued.
This is because new COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket in the state. West Virginia reported 2,070 new probable and confirmed cases Friday, based on data from the West Virginia Department of Health and Personnel.
The state excelled at adopting vaccines, reporting a higher percentage of vaccinations in its population than any other state in February, the Wall Street Journal reported. Now only 46% of the state's eligible population is fully vaccinated against the virus, the lowest of any state, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
West Virginia officials cite hesitant vaccination as the main factor behind this vaccine slowdown. The government has offered several vaccination incentives over the past nine months, such as a $ 100 savings bond for vaccinated people aged 16 to 35, and even a raffle for a firearms lottery in June. Health experts and data have repeatedly shown that the vaccines are safe and effective against the virus.
The judiciary previously expressed its unease about the July Delta variant surge and the state's ability to respond effectively, saying it wanted to "pee and throw up".
The governor also said in Friday's briefing that he doesn't believe in hiring staff to get the COVID vaccine. President Biden announced guidelines earlier this month requiring vaccinations for all government employees and employees of large corporations with more than 100 people.
"At the end of the day we're going to do one of two things: we run to the fire and get vaccinated right away, or we stack the body bags until we reach a point in time, until we have enough people who have natural immunity and enough people who are vaccinated, "he added. "That's all. I would really encourage you to get vaccinated."
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