Beshear wants health coverage for 100% of black Kentuckians, more police training

Posted at 3:51 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 19:27:41-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Following days of protests against the March police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Gov. Andy Beshear's administration released a list of changes in the healthcare, education and justice sectors on Monday.

Beshear, saying he believes healthcare is a right, pledged his administration will work toward "100% coverage" for Kentucky's African American population, whether it is through Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.

The administration also plans to work on access to care and quality of care for vulnerable populations, pointing to the disparity in cases and deaths seen during the recent coronavirus pandemic.

Kentucky reports that roughly 16% of all people who have died of coronavirus were black. The most recent U.S. Census data shows that black people make up just 8.4% of Kentucky's population.

“Already with what was happening with COVID, the world was going to be different afterwards, and the United States was going to be different afterwards, and Kentucky was going to be different afterwards. And now, our commitment is to make sure it’s not just different from a public health perspective, but that it is truly different from an equality and a justice perspective,” Beshear said.

He said first steps will include investing in existing community partners to get people signed up for healthcare as soon as possible.

"We're going to make sure that everybody does. This is just a first commitment in making up for that inequality that Dr. (Martin Luther) King said was one of the most severe, and that's inequality in healthcare," he said.

Additionally, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced that Kentucky's Department of Education will implement three new reforms in light of recent protests, including:

  • Appointing a current student as a non-voting member of the state Board of Education.
  • Ordering implicit bias training for educators.
  • Recruiting more people of color in the teaching field by working with post-secondary institutions and historically black colleges and universities.

“The issue of bias that all of us harbor is something we must confront, especially if bias is hindering a child’s education," Coleman said Monday.

New law enforcement training 'a start'

On Monday, Beshear said the National Guard and Kentucky State Police would no longer be stationed in Louisville during the protests.

In addition, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown announced Monday that all law enforcement officers in Kentucky would undergo eight hours of online training before the end of the calendar year.

The training would cover implicit bias, use of force, civil rights laws, ethics, emotional intelligence and more. Brown said the goal is to increase this training to 40 hours per year in addition to other "long-term" programming for officers.

Beshear said the only similar program available last year was a one-hour cultural awareness training for police dispatchers.

"Is an eight-hour course enough to solve every issue we see out there? No, it's not. But it's a start," Beshear said.

Earlier this month, Louisville Metro Police and National Guard members shot and killed David McAtee while returning fire as they dispersed a crowd after protests against police brutality.

Kentucky COVID-19 cases

On Monday, Beshear reported 472 total coronavirus-related deaths out of 11,476 virus cases. As of Friday, 3,359 people have recovered from the virus, and the state has tested 285,358 people. NKY Health reports that 1,340 people in Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties have tested positive for coronavirus since March and 69 people have died of the virus.

Sunday and Monday, with 70 and 120 new cases respectively, were among some of Kentucky's lowest one-day case totals in recent weeks, Beshear said.

"If you've been in a large group in the recent past, get tested," Beshear said Monday.

To find a free coronavirus testing location near you, click here.

What's reopening in Kentucky?

Historical horse racing facilities reopened Monday with social distancing and sanitation precautions.

In-home childcare is also allowed to resume Monday. Museums, outdoor attractions, libraries, aquariums and distilleries can reopen. Horse shows can also resume on Monday.

In addition, it was announced Thursday that Kentucky Speedway in Sparta would host the Quaker State 400 without fans next month, with NASCAR adding the Xfinity Series double-header to the weekend lineup.

On Thursday, camping will be allowed to resume with social distancing. Childcare centers can reopen on Monday, June 15, and low-touch, outdoor youth sports can resume as well.

Find Kentucky's complete reopening plans here.

Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: