Republican leaders pushing back on Gov. Beshear’s vaccination goal

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 3:31 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Governor Andy Beshear has said 2.5 million Kentuckians need to be vaccinated before fully reopening the state. Republican lawmakers have criticized the governor, pointing to other states who have already reopened.

“It isn’t about just setting a number and then everything changes. It’s about making us safe,” Gov. Beshear said.

Republican lawmakers are pushing back. Senator Rand Paul tweeted “FL is open. TX is open.... But still not Kentucky.” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Attorney General Daniel Cameron expressed similar comments.

But health experts say what works for one place may not work for another.

“There are so many factors that go into it. The number of people vaccinated inside a locality, hospital capacity,” said Allison Adams, vice president for policy with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee ended statewide public health orders this week, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer plans to roll back restrictions after her state hits 70% vaccinated. Governor Andy Beshear is taking a similar approach with his goal of 2.5 million Kentuckians vaccinated before fully reopening.

“That’s actually a pretty good benchmark. That’s getting on that precipice of herd immunity,” Emergency Physician Dr. Ryan Stanton said.

Among the public, reactions are mixed.

“I believe he should go ahead a set a date for reopening because a lot of businesses are suffering,” Debbie Billips said.

“I think it’s critical that folks be vaccinated. Obviously this pandemic has taken a toll not only our country and state but the whole world,” Paul Upchurch said.

More than 1.7 million Kentuckians have been vaccinated, which is less than a million shy of reaching the governor’s goal.

According to data, in the last two weeks, about 10,000 new Kentuckians were vaccinated each day. If that rate continues, the state will reach Beshear’s goal of 2.5 million people vaccinated by mid-July.

Regardless of state reopening timelines, health experts say the sooner more people get vaccinated, the sooner we’ll move pass this pandemic.

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