FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Senate Republicans want to put an end to Kentucky's COVID-19 state of emergency.
Sen. Donald Douglas introduced Senate Joint Resolution 150 on Friday. The measure would end the state of emergency by March 7th.
"Let's change the narrative because the word pandemic keeps being used. We're not in a pandemic. We're in an endemic. There's a difference," said Douglas. "We've moved forward."
Earlier this year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill that moved the end date of the emergency order to mid-April.
But on Friday, Douglas urged the Senate to end it sooner. He believes the state of emergency has caused "great harm" to Kentuckians.
"Some will say that this emergency certainly saved lives. Well, others will say that the changes that were forced by this emergency caused great harm - not only to our economy, but also to our workforce, and to our supply chain,” said Douglas.
Governor Andy Beshear first declared a state of emergency in March 2020, after COVID-19 hit. The order allowed Kentucky to receive federal money to tackle the pandemic and respond to the developing situation. According to the Governor's Office, the order is still helping but not interfering.
"The state of emergency helps Kentucky receive federal dollars to fight the pandemic and provide relief," said spokeswoman Crystal Staley. "Kentucky is open for business – there are no state restrictions on our employers and our schools have been and are open."
Staley pointed out that although Kentucky's covid situation is improving, the virus is still causing challenges.
"While Kentuckians should be excited that pandemic numbers are moving in the right direction, currently we still have more than 300 Kentucky National Guard members assisting overwhelmed hospitals, and last month we had 700 COVID-related deaths reported – yet despite these facts, the Senate today filed a joint resolution undoing their own extension of the state of emergency," said Staley.
Sen. Karen Berg spoke against the resolution on Friday. She pointed out that Kentucky’s positivity rate is still high, and a good portion of the population remains unvaccinated.
"Here in Kentucky, we currently - statewide - are at a 15.2% positivity rate and have a 56% overall vaccination rate," said Berg. "If we could get those numbers up and get the positivity rate down, I could so be behind this resolution. But we have some work to do to get there."
But Douglas urged that the time to end the emergency order is now.
"Let's make some positive decisions for the people in this state," he said.
17 GOP senators joined Douglas in sponsoring the resolution.