In a landmark Kentucky Supreme Court decision two weeks ago the state’s highest court upheld laws passed by the legislature last winter that took away the governor’s pandemic policy-making power and put the proverbial ball in the hands of state lawmakers, who will convene Tuesday, to strategize how best to combat the latest COVID-19 record surge.
On Saturday, Gov. Andy Beshear, who said he and key leaders agreed on several of the issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic, called for the special session of the Kentucky General Assembly, which is expected to last for five days.
In the special session, lawmakers will address extending the state of emergency until mid-January when legislators will reconvene in regular session and will also “set forth the criteria pursuant to which the governor may exercise authority to require facial coverings in indoor settings” while Kentucky is in a state of emergency.
What remains to be seen is how the Republican-dominated legislature will vote on granting Beshear the power to require face masks indoors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The governor isn’t expecting lawmakers to give him blanket authority for universal masking, but would like to be able to require facial covering mandates in counties with high infection rates.
"I believe this authority is absolutely necessary, as we would not have been able to stop the previous surges without using it. We would not have been able to flatten the curve without the ability to require masking," the governor explained, adding that he hopes the session is “constructive” and “a low-drama experience.”
We hope so too. As we have said before and will say again, requiring face masks during a global health pandemic that has already claimed the lives of 7,845 Kentuckians — including 65 Franklin Countians, is not and should not be political.
It is a scientific issue and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the science says that facial coverings may limit exposure to respiratory droplets and large particles and help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus.
We hope that our elected officials keep this in mind as they figure out how to combat the latest spike in coronavirus cases that has saturated the state.