West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Friday his state "will keep lining up body bags" until more people get vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a video update posted Friday on Twitter, Justice implored the residents of his state to get vaccinated but said the state "must respect" the decisions of those that did not want to get the vaccine.
"Seventy-four more people have died since Wednesday," Gov. Justice said. "And they'll keep dying. That's all there is to it. We just are going to keep lining the body bags up, and we're going to line them up and line them up."
The delta variant has ravaged the state as the number of vaccinations has slowed in recent months, going from a leader in vaccinations when they first came out, to lagging many other states now, Justice said.
According to the state, there have been a total of 221,513 cases since the beginning of the pandemic and now 3,370 deaths from the virus.
The state reports 52.2% of its 1,792,147 population fully vaccinated and 64.6% with at least one dose.
Some 2,074 new cases were reported Friday, overwhelming some of the hospitals, Justice said.
"The only thing that I have in my arsenal that will make this get better is for you to get vaccinated," he said. "At the end of the day, as sure as there is a God above, I sure don't want you to get COVID."
Justice said there should also be more research on the impact of antibodies that people acquire when they recover from the disease.
But until then, Justice said the people of West Virginia are going to do "one of two things."
"We are either going to run to the fire and get vaccinated right now, or we're going to pile the body bags up until we reach a point in time to where we have enough people with natural immunities and enough people that are vaccinated," he said. "I would really highly encourage you to get vaccinated."
In the United States overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 54.4% of the country is fully vaccinated and 63.6% have had at least one dose of the three available vaccinations by Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson.
Also, Friday, the Food and Drug Administration unanimously approved a third booster shot for the elderly and high-risk individuals on an emergency authorization basis.
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