FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — As places like California and New York City set dates to lift COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Andy Beshear stood by his goal to reach 2.5 million vaccinations in order to lift most restrictions in Kentucky, but said restrictions could continue to be lifted incrementally.
"Setting a random date doesn't make our people safe, lots of people getting vaccinated makes them safe and everybody safe around them," Gov. Beshear said at his briefing Monday.
As of Monday, Kentucky was more than 666,000 vaccinations away from reaching the goal of 2.5 million, according to data reported on kycovid19.com. Rates of vaccination in the commonwealth have been declining for weeks.
When asked about decisions in other states, Gov. Beshear said Kentucky had already taken many steps laid out in their plans, like increasing capacity for indoor events.
"(Kentucky was) one of the first states to relax its mask mandate for outdoor events and we just held the largest sporting event since COVID," he said.
While he didn't reference him by name, the governor seemed to respond to an op-ed by Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles that calls on him to set a re-open date for the commonwealth.
"While strong, conservative governors like Tennessee’s Bill Lee and Florida’s Ron DeSantis have fully re-opened their states, Gov. Beshear is holding Kentucky’s economic engine hostage," Commissioner Quarles wrote.
"There is more certainty about business in New York and California than there is in Kentucky right now, even with our coronavirus numbers at incredibly low levels," the op-ed reads. "The longer Kentucky refuses to open up, the longer we will lose jobs and workers to other states."
But Gov. Beshear said the best way to create safe conditions for a lifting of restrictions in Kentucky continues to be through vaccinations.
"If you're traveling around, especially if you're a part of a demographic that may be hesitant, just spend some time encouraging people to get vaccinated," Gov. Beshear said. "I don't care who the message comes from, I just want our people to be safe."
Still, he said, restrictions can continue to be lifted incrementally before that 2.5 million goal is reached. He mentioned an increase in capacity at restaurants and offices as areas his administration will look at moving forward.