Gov. Andy Beshear: Pandemic handed him a humbling first year in office

Governor, First Lady reflect on challenges of 2020 and how COVID-19 changed everything
Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 7:09 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A year into his term as Kentucky governor, Democrat Andy Beshear sums up a year dominated by the Coronavirus pandemic as humbling.

“You know, I thought I knew what this job was, my dad having served for eight years, and then three months into my term the pandemic starts,” Beshear said.

Since the first-term governor announced the first case of the virus in Kentucky on March 6, the number of cases has climbed to more than 260,000.

“It has been humbling because of this virus and what it does; what we still don’t know about it; and what we didn’t know about it, especially in March and April,” Beshear told WKYT’s Amber Philpott. “But it’s also been humbling to see the people of Kentucky, what good people we are, how we are willing to come together, and we are willing to sacrifice.”

Joined by his wife, the governor and his wife reflected on 2020.

“I think ‘surprising’ is a good word because we have had a lot of curveballs thrown at us as a family and as a Commonwealth,” First Lady Britainy Beshear said. “Everything from school shutting down, restaurants shutting down, friends and family becoming COVID positive, having scares ourselves, and trying to talk through what would happen with our kids who were really scared.”

This time last year, the governor and his wife were starting to settle into their new roles. This Christmas the Beshear family celebrated like a lot of other Kentucky families, away from loved ones and healthy at home.

“It was just the four of us,” Britainy Beshear said. “But I think this year, more than maybe any other year, it was getting back to the real reason we celebrate Christmas. It was wonderful for us as a family. On Christmas Eve Day, Will was baptized so that was a little something special that just helped us to celebrate even more.”

Before Christmas, both the governor and his wife were among the first Kentuckians to receive the COVID-19 vaccines which he calls a Christmas miracle.

“For months, I have been telling people once this vaccine was available I would take it in front of the cameras to show people that it’s safe. Not only did I take it, but Britainy took it as well which I hope shows people that this vaccine is a miracle. It is safe. It is highly effective, and it’s going to help us defeat this virus,” the governor said.

Life behind the walls at the governor’s mansion is very different than what goes on across the street at the state capitol. It is a chance to put the stress of leading the state during a pandemic behind.

“To be able to come home after providing that update, to give them a hug, to be able to do something with my kids that doesn’t have anything to do with this virus or job, to get licked by the dog, it’s helped me keep going,” Gov. Beshear said.

The Beshears have navigated life in public eye together. Britainy has watched her husband face an extremely challenging first year in office.

“I knew he would be a great governor, but I think that the compassion that Andy has shown and the ability to make those hard choices, knowing that sometimes making those choices is really going to hurt people and how that personally effected him, shows his strength of character that I always knew he had but to really see it firsthand is has been something very special.”

And just as proud as she is of her husband, the governor is equally proud of Britainy and her role this year.

“I think people have been able to connect with Britainy on many a level that they don’t always see with other First Ladies. Perhaps that is the age of our kids. But to be going through this. We have been going through a lot of the same things as other families. We are trying to teach our kids math,” Gov. Beshear said.

While the pandemic has required much of the governor’s time in office, he and the first lady are like many Kentucky families who have learned to be parents and teachers at home.

“I think that there has been a learning curve for us as well as for our kids. I think that I handle certain subjects well and the ones that are more challenging for me, like math, Andy has the patience and the ability to walk through the problems with the kids and explain them,” the First Lady said.

What grade would Will and Lila give their parents as being teachers?

“There is no question that if you got Will or Lila to sit up here they would give me a ‘F,’ because they don’t think dad or mom knows anything that their teachers ever teach. Yet, like every other parent, we slog through it with them and make sure they are succeeding,” the governor said.

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