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Beshear says ending COVID-19 emergency declaration could impact future aid

Gov. Andy Beshear at podium.
Gov. Andy Beshear said he plans to withdraw next week state National Guard members who have been helping at hospitals and food banks as COVID-19 cases slow.

Gov. Andy Beshear said that if a measure to end the COVID-19 state of emergency next week passes at the Kentucky Legislature, it could impact the state’s ability to get future aid. 

Senate Republicans passed Joint Senate Resolution 150 in a 28-8 vote on Thursday, with all Democrats voting against it. 

It would effectively end the state of emergency March 7, not in April as the legislature recently approved.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health reported 671 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with a positivity rate down to 8.56%. There are now fewer than 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID in Kentucky.

Beshear said while these are positive signs, now’s not the time to take away a protection like the emergency declaration. He worries it could hinder future aid like emergency funding or Kentucky National Guard deployment. 

“I think what’s being done is more about politics when we need the flexibility for reimbursement, to potentially be able to deploy the guard if we need them again,” he said at a press conference Monday. 

“Let's do the smart thing. We’re fully open for business, we’ve been fully open for business, our economy is booming again, best year for economic development ever last year but hospitals are crying out for help at different points that may need help again. And let's not do anything that could stop us at any point from getting reimbursement for things that we need.”

The resolution's language reads in part that it is "not the intention of the General Assembly that this Resolution should impair or delay the ability of the Commonwealth to receive any federal stimulus or pandemic-related funds or services."

As of Monday, there were still 388 guard members helping at hospitals and food banks across the state. Beshear said they will likely not be needed by mid-March.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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