On a day that saw legislators continuing to discuss COVID concerns, Governor Andy Beshear said a special legislative session could begin as soon as Tuesday, September 7. Beshear’s announcement took place at a COVID-19 briefing to update reporters on the state’s response to a spike in COVID cases.
“COVID will definitely be on the call,” Beshear said. However, he added, “We are not going to add anything that we are not in agreement with.” Beshear remarked that he and legislators are making progress on special session topics.
Legislators discussed COVID practices in child care centers and the state’s hospital capacity in a special meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Health, Welfare, and Family Services.
Nancy Galvagni, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, shared news on the critical situation facing medical facilities. “The number of COVID hospitalizations is now higher than what we saw at the previous peak last November and December,” she reported.
From the end of July 2021 to the end of August, Galvagni said hospitalizations increased 340%. COVID patients now occupy half of all intensive care beds in the state. “Our hospitals are being overwhelmed by an absolute deluge of patients with COVID-19,” she stated. Beshear noted that two-thirds of Kentucky hospitals now report critical staffing shortages because of COVID cases.
Senator Danny Carroll (R-Paducah) spoke on child care centers. While he stressed that they “have fared pretty well,” he shared that more than 1,000 Kentucky-regulated centers had positive cases among children or staff. Carroll said he would sponsor a bill that will focus on child care center COVID practices.
The state requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide two monoclonal COVID-19 antibody injection teams for Kentuckians infected with the virus.
In anticipation of a special legislative session, the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) has asked lawmakers to protect home rule status and stand against any measure that would change or enact additional preemptions. KLC requests legislators support transparency provided by Senate Bill 150 (2020) so cities can continue to operate in an open and safe manner. It is also vital that the General Assembly extend the liability protections provided with Senate Bill 5 (2021) which are critical as our cities and the businesses important to their economies remain open and operational.