Kentucky Senate votes to mark official end of COVID-19 pandemic on March 7th

Kentucky State Capitol
Posted at 3:07 PM, Feb 25, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Kentucky Senate has passed Senate Joint Resolution 150, a move that would end the COVID-19 state of emergency declared by Governor Andy Beshear.

The resolution would mark the official end of the pandemic on March 7, 2022, two years and one day after it was initially declared.

Earlier this year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill that moved the end date of the emergency order to mid-April. But Sen. Donald Douglas (R-Nicholasville), who sponsored the resolution, said the deadline should be moved up. He wants people to no longer fear the pandemic and he worries the Governor might prolong the situation.

"This legislature simply must take action now with SJR 150 during this year's session, because if we don't, the Governor could extend the current declaration until 2023," said Douglas in a statement. "The repercussions are extraordinary; unneeded frustration, instilling fear in citizens and further damaging our economy, altogether doing far more harm than good."

Douglas said since the state's COVID-19 positivity rate is lower than it was in January, now is the time to consider COVID-19 endemic.

"Declaring the endemic now gives the Governor plenty of time to determine if he needs to file administrative regulations based upon existing statutory authority, encouraging the Governor to get engaged with the legislature as opposed to unilaterally dictating policy," he said.

Governor Andy Beshear first declared a state of emergency in March 2020, after COVID-19 first 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-19 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 [Friday] filed a joint resolution undoing their own extension of the state of emergency," said Staley.

However, Douglas pushed back against that perspective, saying it is time to move on.

"We want to make it clear - crystal clear. So, when you go out and talk to your neighbor, and you go out to the mall - everybody knows there is no emergency in place," he said.

The Kentucky House of Representatives will now consider the measure.