Kentucky’s Democratic governor on Sunday described the state’s surge of Covid cases as “dire,” and pointed out that Republican state lawmakers had limited his options to control the record wave of infections there.
“If I had the ability to do it right now, we would have a masking order when you are in public and indoors,” said Gov. Andy Beshear, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” news program. “We know that’s a proven way to slow the spread of the virus and ultimately help our health care capacity.”
Kentucky recorded a seven-day average of 4,423 new daily cases on Saturday, according to a New York Times database. Deaths and hospitalizations have been rising, too. “Our situation is dire,” Mr. Beshear said.
The state Supreme Court recently ruled that a lower court could not block lawmakers’ attempts to curb Mr. Beshear’s emergency powers for dealing with Covid. He had attempted to impose a sweeping mask mandate in schools.
Mr. Beshear has called a special session of the state legislature to begin on Tuesday to address the crisis.
The National Guard, FEMA and nursing students have been dispatched across the state to help hospitals, Mr. Beshear said.
“When you’re at war, you don’t get to cry about what you can or can’t do,” he said. “You have got to do your very best every day because this is a battle of life versus death.”
In the state, 68 percent of those over 12 have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and 58 percent are fully inoculated, according to a Times database. That puts Kentucky in the middle ground compared to other states’ vaccination rates.
“We are well past, I think all across America, the populations that are going to listen to a government official and take the vaccine because of it,” Mr. Beshear said. “We’re probably past even the point where a local official, a pastor or others.”
He attributed some of the state’s vaccine hesitancy to misinformation, and asked individuals to speak to their loved ones, on top of public information campaigns.
“People are going to have to break that Thanksgiving dinner rule,” he said. “They’re going to have to call or go see that person they love and care about that is unvaccinated. They’re going to have to put their relationship with that person on the line because they’ve never been at greater risk.”.
“I think it’s that type of caring, and the person who is willing to do that and to make that sacrifice that will finally get through to those that are not vaccinated.”
He added, “You might lose a friend because of that conversation, but that friend might lose their life if they don’t get vaccinated.”