FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Nearly two years into its fight against COVID-19, Kentucky is pivoting into an era of “personal empowerment” with people making their own health decisions as coronavirus cases decline and tools to treat it emerge, Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday.
“We believe that we’re moving toward living with COVID but not ignoring COVID,” the Democratic governor said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Beshear, who is running for another term in 2023, stoutly defended the restrictions on businesses and social gatherings that he imposed early in the pandemic, saying his actions saved lives.
In an interview conducted over Zoom, the governor said he’s less concerned about the potential for another statewide spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, based on the availability of vaccines and therapeutics to combat the virus.
“Where we’re going now in the pandemic, with cases dropping very quickly, is about in many ways personal empowerment," he said. “And people being able to have more information than ever before, even at a hyperlocal level, to make the best decisions that they can for their own health, factoring in things like pre-existing conditions or amount of people they’re around on any given day.”
Beshear, who has faced Republican criticism for his handling of the pandemic, downplayed political feuding over virus policies, saying he did not see it permanently deepening divisions in the country.
“I believe that the narrative out there is ... these two sides battling over things,” the governor said. "But when you look at Kentuckians over 18-years-old, 75% have gotten at least one shot of the vaccine. That is overwhelming."
“So while I think social media can augment a small group of voices and make them seem larger, the data shows that the vast majority of people who can make their own health care decisions ... have done the right thing, have made the decision to protect themselves and to protect others.”