Gov. Andy Beshear talks to Kentuckians on a day that the most coronavirus deaths were reported with 22. (Kentucky Today/Tom Latek)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - On a day that saw the most deaths due to the coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear addressed Kentuckians on the pandemic.

This was the fourth address Beshear has made to Kentuckians: his inaugural last December, his State of the Commonwealth and Budget Addresses during the General Assembly session.  This one was about 15 minutes long.

“Tonight, I want to speak directly to Kentuckians and provide a state of this pandemic,” he said.  “It is a painful address to make.  That starts with the pain of all of our loss.  The loss of over 1,035 Kentuckians, 22 today alone making this the deadliest day in the Commonwealth, and we know at least hundreds more to come.”

During his remarks, Beshear said he remembered well, six months ago, when the state’s first case of COVID-19 was reported.

“I remember, it was a Friday,” he said.  “I’d just tried to go home a little early, excited to see my kids and enjoy the weekend – one filled with baseball, horses or whatever my kids would be willing to do with their dad.  But then the call came.  It stopped me and all of Kentucky in our tracks.  Our first case of COVID-19.  Our lives since that day have been very different.”

Beshear said no one chose this fight, but Kentuckians have shown up for the battle.  “Just like our health care heroes showed up for their patients.  Or other essential workers like first responders, grocery store employees, farmers and poll workers who put their own health at risk to keep our families safe, to help us vote safely and to help us put food on the table.  Our educators shifted to online classrooms to protect our kids.”

He noted how children have been resilient.  “As the father of a 10- and 11-year-old, I see the sacrifices they are making, and they’ve often done so with a great attitude.  When my own son had to postpone his baptism, he told me, ‘Dad, if it helps other people, I’m OK with that.’  That’s a special kid.”

He said his guidance from the start was from bi-partisan health experts at all levels.  “From Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx of the White House task force to our own Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Based on their guidance, and a lot of prayer, I have taken aggressive action in order to protect Kentuckians.”

He admitted many of those actions have been difficult.  “They have been choices where every option causes pain, and none of those choices would be popular.  But as I told you, I am way past politics or concerns about popularity.  My job is to do my best by my family, my faith, and by the people of Kentucky.  So, I made the best decisions I could, reducing commercial and social gatherings; limiting travel; and, most importantly, instituting a statewide mask mandate. All these steps generated criticism. But all of them are working.”

Still, he pointed out that more than 1,000 Kentucky families are hurting due to the loss of a loved one.  “And shame on anybody, including many of our legislators and those online, who claim these deaths aren’t real.  They are.”

Kentucky has just set back-to-back records for weekly COVID cases, he said.  “Last week we recorded 4,742 new coronavirus cases. The week before, we had 4,503 cases. Just today, we are reporting 805 new cases, bringing the state’s total to date to more than 54,000.”

Beshear said we are still in the fight of our lives.  “Now, as Americans, as Kentuckians, it is our time to fulfill our patriotic duty to protect one another. And in this fight, that means wearing a mask, social distancing, keeping gatherings to 10 people or less, washing your hands and limiting travel.  We are asking so little. Just small, but powerful actions that may save somebody’s life.”

Going forward, he said we will always remember those who lost their lives, “but our duty is to recommit to them and to each other to defeat this virus. The sixth chapter of Galatians, verse 2, says, 'Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.’  I know that other religions agree – we have a duty to serve one another.”

He concluded his remarks by saying, “While this virus physically keeps us apart, we cannot let it drive us apart. As a team, Team Kentucky, we cannot give up.  We will get through this.  We will get through this together.”

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