CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Again Monday, during his virtual COVID-19 briefing, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice hammered home his pleas for more young residents to get vaccinated.

“What is it going to take for us to get this?” Justice asked, again citing data that shows the average age of those testing positive for COVID-19 in West Virginia has dropped from 44 to 34. “I don’t know what the argument(against getting vaccinated) is. I don’t know what it could possible be?” Justice asked.

The governor called on older residents to implore younger family members to get vaccinated, suggesting that they tell younger folks that they have an obligation to get a shot. “Please help me get’em vaccinated,” Justice pleaded.

More than 110,000 of the 380,000 people in the 16-35 year old age group have been vaccinated, Justice reported. Comparatively, 53% of the state’s eligible population has gotten at least one dose, the governor said.

State officials are still trying to figure out how to administer the $100 savings bond incentive, Justice announced last week. If that can’t be done, Justice suggested a $100 debit-type card that younger residents could keep as a souvenir, or even a silver dollar, but coming up with several hundred thousand silver dollars is a challenge, he said.

Gov. Justice called on local businesses to offer discounts to those who get vaccinated, but said “It’s a crying shame that we’ve got to do any and everything to be able to get our people finally across the top of the mountain.”

State efforts have switched from trying to get enough vaccines for the state to trying to keep on-hand vaccines from expiring, officials described. The state has not heard back from the federal government on its request to get vaccines in vials with fewer doses, to avoid spoiling.

“If we don’t get our population vaccinated to the highest level possible, we’re going to have a bunch more people die. If you can stand that, fine. I can’t. I can’t stand it. If you can stand seeing one of your loved ones die, fine. I can’t stand that. If you don’t want to line up the body bags, c’mon West Virginia and absolutely step up. I can understand these fears of the bogey man, but really and truly, we know these vaccines are incredibly safe. This will not go away until we make it go away.

WV Gov. Jim Justice

Vaccinated staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities no longer have to be tested for COVID, twice a week, but unvaccinated staff will have to continue with the testing, state health officials announced.

In addition to the seven latest COVID-19 deaths in the state, Gov. Justice also lamented two recent shooting deaths of high school basketball players in Beckley and Charleston: “We’ve got to get back to being Americans and loving our neighbors,” he said.