FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s Historic Properties Advisory Commission voted to remove a Jefferson Davis statue from the capitol rotunda on Friday, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.
Davis, who was born in Fairview, Kentucky, was the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War and a slaveowner.
Beshear released the following statement after the vote:
“Today has been a historic day in the Commonwealth. Pursuant to my request, the Historic Properties Advisory Commission met and, in a bipartisan vote, voted to remove the Jefferson Davis statue from our Rotunda. It was past time for this vote and for this action. But what it will mean is that we get a little closer to truly being Team Kentucky – that every child who walks into this Capitol feels welcome, and none of them have to look at a symbol and a statue that stands for the enslavement of their ancestors. Today is a move toward showing that everybody is welcome in this building and that our government should work for the betterment of every single Kentuckian – that we have systematic issues that we must address, but that now is the time to truly move forward, to truly make progress and to show that Team Kentucky includes every single Kentuckian.”
At his Thursday briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear announced he would meet Friday with the Kentucky Historic Properties Advisory Commission to vote on removing a statue to Jefferson Davis from the capitol rotunda.
"It is long past due to remove a statue that some kids who come into this capitol -- a capitol that's supposed to be the people's house and there for everybody -- see as a symbol that they don't matter, a symbol of the enslavement of their ancestors and a symbol of the continued systematic racism that we see in so many parts of our society," Beshear said.
The administration has not released a timeline to remove the statue, but Beshear said it would be removed "as quickly as possible." The board will meet at 1 p.m.
"We expect a bipartisan vote in favor of the removal of the statue tomorrow," he said.
Beshear urged Kentuckians to continue to practice social distancing guidelines and get tested for coronavirus as his press conference Wednesday and emphasized the importance of complying with contract tracing procedures if a positive test is received. He also asked those who attended recent protests and demonstrations to get tested.
"We do not have information on coronavirus stemming from protests -- it's too early," Beshear said.
Beshear reported Thursday's coronavirus case numbers would be artificially low as the state is still waiting to upload roughly 5,000 test results to a federal database.
With that in mind, he reported 494 total coronavirus-related deaths out of 11,945 virus cases so far. Three of those virus-related deaths were men living in the same Boone County long-term care facility, plus two other people from Kenton County.
He said 3,379 people have recovered from the virus, and the state has tested 308,786 people so far.
NKY Health reported that 1,388 people in Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties have tested positive for coronavirus since March and 74 people have died of the virus as of Thursday.
In long term care facilities, 1,457 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 311 residents have died. In those facilities, 705 staff have contracted COVID-19 and three have died.
Beshear said coronavirus cases have been seen in all except one Kentucky county (Robertson) so far.
To find one of the 189 free coronavirus testing locations in Kentucky, click here.
Governor: More funding needed for social services
Beshear, saying that Kentucky has underfunded public health in recent years, announced he plans to address the gap in healthcare along racial lines.
"I believe that we do need to fund these other social services [and] address the root cause of so many issues," Beshear said.
During recent protests against police brutality, some have called for governments to defund police departments, and on Wednesay, Beshear said more money should be diverted to social services, which are better equipped to solve some kinds of problems than police.
"This concept of 'defund the police' I don't think is as much about taking dollars away from law enforcement as we throw law enforcement at problems that even law enforcement believes that they shouldn't be addressing. When we don't address mental health in the way that we need to, what happens? A law enforcement individual is sent," Beshear said.
Healthcare is another sector in which Beshear said he wants to see inequities erased.
“I believe that health care is a basic human right," he said. "I made a pledge that we would work to sign up every Kentuckian for some form of health coverage,” Beshear said.
Beshear said Kentucky's upcoming budget aimed to reduce cuts to healthcare and other social services, but the recent coronavirus pandemic has put much of that on hold. The budget proposal would have included overall health coverage for children, but the legislature did not include that in the final budget.
Nearly 20,000 black Kentuckians don't have health insurance. Beshear said the goal is to make sure that everybody has coverage either through Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.
“We have an obligation to make sure that members of our African-American communities are able to sign up for healthcare coverage right away,” Beshear said. “There is long history of racial inequality in healthcare. The coronavirus is making that more clear than ever.”
What's reopening in Kentucky?
Starting Wednesday, houses of worship were allowed to begin hosting congregants at 50% capacity.
On Thursday, camping is allowed to resume with social distancing.
Historical horse racing facilities reopened Monday with social distancing and sanitation precautions. In-home childcare was also allowed to resume Monday along with horse shows, museums, outdoor attractions, libraries, aquariums and distilleries.
It was announced last week 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.
Childcare centers can reopen on Monday, and low-touch, outdoor youth sports can resume as well.
On Tuesday, Beshear announced a Kentucky State Fair proposal for 2020 has been approved and promised a "very different" event from years past.
"The main thing is we are ensuring that we are keeping the agricultural competitions and so many of the things that make the fair so great," Beshear said during his COVID-19 briefing Tuesday. The fair is set for Aug. 20-30.
Find Kentucky's complete reopening plans here.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: