FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Reaction from state and federal lawmakers was swift to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s announcement of new COVID-19 restrictions Wednesday.
The governor seemed to know at his press conference that some of the choices were going to come under fire.
“Action is unpopular, but inaction is deadly,” Beshear said. “We have got to take action to make sure we can save lives... and to make sure as many Kentuckians as possible see the end of this virus.”
There was plenty of partisan pushback from state and federal leaders who took to social media to express how they felt about Beshear’s decisions.
Some of the new restrictions include temporarily ceasing in-person instruction at all public and private K-12 schools starting Monday and shutting down indoor services at restaurants and bars for a little more than three weeks, starting Friday.
State Republican leaders seemed especially agitated after Beshear, a Democrat, told them his plans only minutes before his press conference. They were among the first to react on social media.
Here’s a look at some of the statements:
"Today’s meeting was not a consultation nor did the Governor seek any input from legislative leaders. While the 20 minute presentation by Dr. Stack was informative, the Governor answered questions for less than ten minutes and failed to provide any contact tracing based data on where cases are spreading in Kentucky. He must be prepared to directly answer the same questions we face from our constituents every single day. While we take this virus seriously, we will not be cover for his unilateral decision-making. Working with the legislature means more than calling us an hour before making his pre-determined edicts public. This kind of move is not leadership, it’s misleading."
"For the first time since the pandemic began, Governor Beshear briefed legislative leadership on his new, draconian measures that will do further damage to our economy and schoolchildren. When I asked him what took so long to open communications with us, and why we weren't consulted on his new edicts, he lectured me on how he felt this questioning was harmful to future talks. Apparently with Governor Beshear it's 'his way or the highway:' no questions, no criticisms, no suggestions allowed. I'm weary of his failed leadership, as are many Kentuckians. His arbitrary rules will continue to bring harm to citizens everywhere and is an affront to the concept of co-equal branches of government. In January, the people's branch of government will speak loudly about this Governor and his authoritarian policies. Hang on Kentucky, help is on the way."
"This is the first time in eight months that the Governor has briefed us, and make no mistake, it was a briefing not a collaboration. The decisions today, made solely by the Governor, were to limit and restrict many businesses that may not survive based on what was proposed. We have not been shown any data that would draw a rational basis to limit Thanksgiving in your home to eight people when you can go to a private venue with twenty-five people. Nor were we presented any data that justifies a blanket policy to close public and private schools, especially when we are seeing the loss of a year of educational opportunities and destructive effects to the mental health of our youth. Kentucky is in a crisis, this is real, and the Governor needs to start consulting with us for the sake of the Commonwealth."
"For all the 'this is not a shutdown' talk we just heard from Governor Beshear, make no mistake: this is a shutdown. Our restaurants, students, and workers have been thrown into a long dark winter. I sure hope agriculture is exempt from the Governor's restrictions. We must be able to feed our country. I have no copy of the orders to advise or answer questions for members of the ag or agribusiness community. I'll keep everyone updated as I have more information."
"We are supportive and urge Kentuckians to comply so we can get our state back in business."
"Governor Beshear’s sweeping new COVID-19 restrictions announced today will have a devastating and irreversible impact on Kentucky small businesses and their employees. Accordingly, I call on the Governor to do more than his empty gesture to set up a paltry and woefully inadequate bureaucratic assistance program with federal CARES Act funds that should have been spent months ago. Instead, I strongly urge the Governor, on behalf of my constituents who will lose their businesses and their jobs because of his actions, to contact Speaker Nancy Pelosi to demand she immediately end her partisan and reckless obstruction of H.R. 8265, stand-alone legislation I have co-sponsored to provide $135 billion in forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program to distressed small businesses."
"Our governor just announced he’s indefinitely banning all dine-in restaurant service. But establishments can apply for $10,000 to compensate for their losses. Does he realize that won’t cover one night’s receipts for some of these establishments? He will bankrupt many of them."
“As long as I have known Gov. Andy Beshear, I have known him to be a leader who is willing to make tough decisions. I want to thank Gov. Beshear for always being willing to make the hard decisions especially when those decisions literally mean the difference between life and death. Every decision the governor has made regarding the COVID-19 crisis has been made after consulting public health experts and taking into consideration any state actions impact on schools, businesses, our ability to come together as families to celebrate or mourn, and our ability to return to places that nourish our spirits such as churches and houses of worship. These decisions, while not easy, have been made because of the clear evidence about the spread of the virus in our communities. I also know that Governor Beshear understands and respects the enormous financial, emotional, and mental toll the pandemic has had across the Commonwealth. As a citizen, it has pained and frankly angered me to see this public health crisis politicized. As a country and as a Commonwealth, we once respected the idea that in times such as these, science, not partisanship, would define our outcomes. Now is not the time for our leaders and public servants to play politics with people’s lives or refuse to take science seriously. People are dying. Small businesses are hurting. Communities of color and communities with lack of access to quality and affordable healthcare are disproportionately suffering and dying. Like most parents, my wife and I would love nothing more than for schools to be open as they were this time last year. Yet as parents, we know too well the worry of sending our children safely to school. We hear the voices of educators worried about the health risks of coming to school or driving a bus and contracting COVID or worse, transmitting it to a loved one. This is not who we are and it does not have to be this way. Let me be clear, wearing a mask is not a political statement. It is not living in fear. The scriptures tell us to love one another and simply put, wearing a mask, even if inconvenient, is the kind of act of selflessness and love for our neighbors, we are called upon to, as people of faith, as members of a community, and as human beings, to live out. The quickest way to return to a more “normal” existence, is to listen to fact based science and to follow the recommendations that are being made. Anyone who prefers to peddle in misinformation for their own personal agenda needs to work with Governor Beshear, not against Kentuckians. Governor Beshear, and other governors from both sides of the aisle, have put politics aside to continue to save lives, filling the void left by a lack of coordinated federal response. It is time for all Kentucky leaders to do the same. The decision could not be more clear. Will leaders stand on the side of life, or will they, as they did in March, stand on the side of partisan, petty, and frankly, deadly politics? The time for grandstanding is over, as every minute so called leaders spend spreading false information and fighting this Governor, is a minute we are losing to COVID-19. I am glad to have leaders like Governor Beshear and Lt. Governor (Jacqueline) Coleman, who refuse to wave the white flag to COVID-19. Defeatism is not who we are as Kentuckians or as Americans. I hope leaders on both sides of the aisle will show the same resolve.”