CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice confronted outlandish conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine Tuesday and set higher targets for vaccinating residents age 50 and older.

He said at a news conference that he recently had a meal with a group of people who believed in the baseless conspiracy theory that “there was something in the vaccine that would enable the federal government to track us.”

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The governor dismissed it and urged more people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“To come up with the idea that there’s a chip or something like that in the vaccine and it will go in our body and they’ll know where we’re at, it’s just a stretch beyond what I can believe,” he said.

Justice noted that the phones people carry around with them have more potential for tracking them.

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West Virginia lags behind five bordering states in total vaccine doses administered per 100,000 people, according to federal data. The more transmissible delta variant is leading to a nationwide rise in cases again after months of decline.

State data show that more than 58% of all residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Justice set a new goal of vaccinating 85% of residents 50 and older, a group that currently has 81.4% coverage. He also wants 90% of those age 65 and older to receive a shot, while 88.7% currently have one.

Hospitalizations in the state are up 54% since July 4 to 80 COVID-19 patients. Officials warned the delta variant is slowly beginning to spread in the state.

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