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'That's Their Call.' Beshear Cedes Pandemic Powers To Legislature Amid Rising Cases

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Gov. Andy Beshear says state lawmakers now bear some of responsibility for charting Kentucky’s path through the pandemic, following a Supreme Court ruling placing new restrictions on his executive authority. 

A high court decision ushering in new restrictions on the scope of the governor’s powers arrives at a time when the state is witnessing at or near record high test positivity and an overburdened healthcare system stretched to its limits.

Steve Haines, nursing director of the intensive care unit at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, said his facility is seeing a grim "rinse and repeat" when it comes to bed space after a COVID patient has passed.  

"We'll take somebody out, we'll take them to the morgue when we just can't save them, and there's somebody waiting two minutes later," he said in an emotional video statement. 

And setting state policy amid the rising cases will soon rest on the shoulders of the General Assembly, which passed laws requiring new legislative approval of things like statewide mask mandates. In his Monday briefing, Beshear indicated his initial talks with lawmakers have been productive and he hopes they will opt to continue Kentucky’s state of emergency.

"My hope is, at the very least, we could do a special session. (An extended state of emergency) would be authorized and whatever limitations that the legislature wants to put on it... ok. In the end now, that's their call," the governor said. 

For now, Beshear is calling up additional National Guard to help in hospitals and requesting more medical staff through FEMA.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.