FRANKFORT, Ky. — Republican Senators filed a resolution Friday that, if passed, would end the COVID-19 state of emergency in Kentucky.
When Kentucky reported its first case of COVID-19 on March 6, 2020, Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency that paved the way for several restrictions aimed at slowing the pandemic.
“We’re not in a pandemic; we’re in an endemic,” said the resolution’s sponsor, Sen. Donald Douglas (R-Nicholasville). “There’s a difference.”
Douglas said Senate Joint Resolution 150 will help the commonwealth move on.
“We need to get our society moving again,” he said. “We need to bring our society back together again.”
Douglas cites declining case numbers and the less-severe omicron strain of the virus as reasons for the resolution.
Several Republicans signed on as co-sponsors, including Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester).
“If there’s anything that may be as indicative of why this needs to be over: who watched the Super Bowl?” he asked. “In California, one of the most restrictive states, and in a closed-in population of approximately 80,000, no one had masks.”
Kentucky doesn’t have any statewide restrictions — no mask mandate and no capacity limits for businesses — but Douglas said ending the state of emergency will ease some fear people have.
“Not just adults, but to our kids: they’re afraid to go outside, they’re afraid to take off their masks, they’re afraid to even interact with each other,” Douglas said.
Gov. Andy Beshear responded to the resolution through his spokeswoman, Crystal Staley:
“While Kentuckians should be excited that pandemic numbers are moving in the right direction, currently we still have more than 300 Kentucky National Guard members assisting overwhelmed hospitals, and last month we had 700 COVID-related deaths reported—yet despite these facts, the Senate today filed a joint resolution undoing their own extension of the state of emergency. The state of emergency helps Kentucky receive federal dollars to fight the pandemic and provide relief. Kentucky is open for business—there are no state restrictions on our employers and our schools have been and are open. Gov. Beshear is focused on beating the pandemic and not playing politics. He hopes others will follow that example.”
Douglas said there are negatives to continuing the state of emergency.
“Do we wait until we cause further harm to our young people? Do we wait until we cause further harm to our adults?” he asked. “In medicine, we talk about risk-benefit ratio; are we doing more harm, or are we doing more good?”
Lawmakers previously extended the state of emergency through April 14.