FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 4, 2021) – As COVID-19 cases increase at the fastest growth rate of the pandemic, straining Kentucky hospitals, Gov. Andy Beshear on Saturday called lawmakers to Frankfort next week to extend the pandemic state of emergency, which provides administration and public health officials with the tools and measures needed to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
A state of emergency clearly continues in the commonwealth, and following a recent Kentucky Supreme Court ruling, the Governor worked with the General Assembly to assess a call for a special session, which will begin in Frankfort at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.
“This is one of the most dangerous times we’ve experienced this entire pandemic, with the delta variant burning through Kentucky and taking more of our loved ones and neighbors. It’s also overwhelming more and more of our hospitals and shutting down our schools,” the Governor said. “We need as many tools as possible to fight this deadly surge in order to save lives, keep our children in school and keep our economy churning.”
The Governor is asking lawmakers to consider legislation to address several topics including: extending the state of emergency until Jan. 15, 2022; setting forth the criteria regarding the Governor’s authority to require facial coverings in indoor settings in certain circumstances; providing additional flexibility for school districts; and making an appropriation from the American Rescue Plan Act to support mitigation and prevention activities, such as testing and vaccine distribution.
While in Frankfort, the Governor also is asking lawmakers to extend by an additional 30 days a state of emergency declared by the Governor, in response to the flash flooding in Nicholas County and the City of Carlisle, on Aug. 3, 2021. The action is necessary to ensure any emergency services that may be required are provided to residents and businesses, as the commonwealth’s request for federal assistance submitted to President Joe Biden through the Federal Emergency Management Agency remains under review.
The Governor 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 would constitute the largest in Kentucky’s history. The Cabinet for Economic Development currently is pursuing at least five projects of this size, and the changes would allow Kentucky to be competitive with other states.
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. We 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.