West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) said Sunday that those who are still unvaccinated against COVID-19 will be pushed to get the shot only by a “catastrophe” in which “an awful lot of people die.”
On ABC’s “This Week,” host Martha Raddatz asked the governor what would push those who have not gotten vaccinated in the state “over the edge” to change their minds.
The governor, who in recent weeks has called on hesitant constituents to get the shot, responded, “I hate to say this, but what would put them over the edge is if an awful lot of people die.”
Justice said the “only way” he could see the nearly half of adults in West Virginia who have not yet gotten vaccinated alter their thinking would if be "a catastrophe" occurred "that none of us want."
The governor said that while the state has launched a lottery to give cash, guns, trucks and other prizes to people who have gotten vaccinated, another lottery is happening in his state in which people are gambling with their lives.
“It’s a death lottery,” he added.
His remarks echo those he shared last month in which he said those choosing not to get the COVID-19 vaccine were “entering the death drawing.”
“How many is there going to be the next time we sit down?” he said of coronavirus deaths in his state. “How many is there going to be on next Tuesday?”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 53 percent of residents ages 18 and older have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 shot, with just 45 percent fully vaccinated.
The U.S. overall was shy of President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Democrats' struggle for voting rights bill comes to a head David Weil: Wrong man, wrong place, wrong time Biden's voting rights gamble prompts second-guessing MORE's goal heading into Sunday, with 67 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 and older with one shot and 58 percent fully vaccinated.
The Biden administration set an original vaccine goal of 70 percent of all Americans getting at least partially vaccinated by July 4.
Concerns about the highly transmissible delta variant have officials worried that more cases and deaths could undermine the country's efforts combating the virus.
In West Virginia, there have been more than 164,000 reported infections, with nearly 2,900 deaths as a result of the virus, according to the state health department.