Governor calls special session to deal with COVID
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Democratic Governor Andy Beshear on Saturday called the Republican-led legislature into a special session to shape policies in Kentucky during the worsening pandemic.
The session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Beshear says he expects the session to last at least five days. It is estimated the session will cost $68,000 per day.
GOP supermajorities will decide what measures ultimately will pass. The current state of emergency is scheduled to expire at midnight on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.
The governor called his meetings over the past week with legislative leaders productive, both sides exchanged drafts, agreed upon the session agenda and worked in good faith all in an effort to slow the spread of the surging coronavirus.
Beshear is asking lawmakers to consider legislation to address several topics, including: extending the state of emergency until Jan. 15, 2022, when the next legislative session is scheduled to begin; setting the criteria regarding the governor’s authority to require masks indoors in certain circumstances; providing additional flexibility for school districts, including use of NTI days; and making an appropriation from the American Rescue Plan Act to support mitigation and prevention activities, such as testing and vaccine distribution.
The governor is also asking lawmakers to extend the state of emergency in Nicholas County and the City of Carlisle an additional 30 days to ensure any emergency services that may be required are provided to people and businesses as the state’s request for help from FEMA remains under review.
Beshear also is asking for additional flexibility for the manner in which incentives can be provided to economic development projects with more than $2 billion in investment, which the governor says would constitute the largest in Kentucky’s history.
More than 7,840 Kentuckians have died from COVID-19 during the last 18 months, with case numbers spiking now because of the delta variant. In the last two days alone, the governor announced 69 deaths, one of whom was just 27 years old, and more than 10,500 new cases in the commonwealth.
There is also have record numbers of Kentuckians in the hospital (2,365), in intensive care (661) and on ventilators (425). On Friday, 1,547 of the 5,111 new cases were Kentuckians 18 and younger. The positivity rate Friday was 13.17%. Just two months ago, on July 1, 2021, Kentucky reported only 215 new cases of COVID-19 – 47 of which of were for those age 18 and under – and three deaths, 201 hospitalizations, 55 patients in the ICU, 25 patients on ventilators and a positivity rate of 1.99%.
Kentucky is fast approaching nearly 600,000 COVID-19 cases during the almost 18 months of the pandemic.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the delta variant is nearly twice as contagious as previous COVID-19 variants, and fully vaccinated people with delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others. Further, per the CDC, on Aug. 30 Kentucky had averaged more than 4,000 cases a day in the prior seven days, equaling approximately 28,000 for the week, and the United States had averaged more than 150,000 new cases a day.
The special session call is available here.