Gov. Andy Beshear has vowed to protect the state Capitol against threats from within Kentucky and across the country.
Beshear on Monday said Kentucky law enforcement is prepared to do what is necessary to protect government buildings and everyone inside following vandalism, armed protests and last week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol.
He however, declined to give details citing the threat of “domestic terror.”
He criticized armed protesters who staged a rally outside the Capitol on Saturday for honoring Ashli Babbitt, who Beshear described as “domestic terrorist,” and for carrying plastic zip ties designed to restrain people. Babbit was killed during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“These are not the actions of people who believe in this country and in the rule of law. It is people who believe they can take the law into their own hands,” Beshear said. “We here in Kentucky will not be bullied.”
The following day, vandals spray-painted graffiti at the home of Kentucky’s top health official on Sunday, painting Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack’s mailbox with the words “COVID is PCR fraud,” Beshear said.
“This wasn’t about what was spray painted on the mailbox. This is about those individuals, those bullies trying to create terror by saying we know where you live, we know how to get to you,” Beshear said. “But we will not let that happen.”
Kentucky added 2,085 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 21 new deaths. Monday’s cases were a slight decline after last week, which saw the highest number of new cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Last week’s increase appears to be the result of holiday gatherings, though Beshear added that it’s possible the highly transmissible variant first found in the United Kingdom had made its way to Kentucky (Indiana reported its first case of the variant Monday.)
Hospitalizations remain relatively flat while 119 of 120 Kentucky counties continue to see uncontrolled spread of the virus, he said.
With a letter in hand from the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Beshear criticized House Bill 1, which would allow CDC-compliant schools and businesses to remain open.
Beshear said the bill would make CDC guidelines state law, something that was never intended and not recommended by the CDC. In the letter, Director Robert Redfield said CDC recommendations are meant to be flexible and should be used in consideration with state and local guidance.
HB1 is just one of a number of bills that have already passed and would trim the governor’s powers during the pandemic.
Beshear indicated he would veto any bill that would hamper his ability to protect public health and challenge in court any bill that strips him of emergency powers unconstitutionally.