COVID, still and again
What you think about schools reopening, the mask mandate and the attorney general's challenge
If so much weren’t at stake, the recent legal maneuvers in Kentucky regarding COVID-19 could power any John Grisham page-turner:
Young Democratic governor, also Kentucky’s former attorney general, who just eked out a 5,000-vote win over Republican incumbent, inherits a GOP-dominated legislature and leading his state through a pandemic. Andy Beshear does so with a mixture of bold action, scientific foundation, and homespun appeals to patriotism, neighborliness and the Golden Rule. Might be too much to say “a star is born,” but he has a lot of public support and approval. His daily briefings become must-see TV for a lot of Kentuckians.
Soon, though, and no surprise, the rumblings start. Protests against his measures crop up at the capitol, and one even carries over to the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion where a protester hangs him in effigy. As it does in other areas, the resistance grows among some citizens to any government orders or restrictions on their public behavior in a time of pandemic. The latest outrage to them is the governor’s mandate for Kentuckians to wear face masks in public.
Eventually, the newly elected attorney general, the first African-American to be elected statewide in Kentucky, a Republican and a protege of the state’s senior U.S. senator, goes to court to strike down all the governor’s COVID-related emergency orders on the basis of their arbitrarily violating rights. Attorney General Daniel Cameron seems to have found a judge that agrees with him ... but before that judge’s order can be publicly shared, the Kentucky Supreme Court intervenes, staying that order and saying it will hear arguments in a full hearing beginning in early August. So for now the executive orders stand.
Meanwhile, the state’s largest public school system is grappling with whether to re-open fully for the next school year, as cases in Kentucky start to spike again. This decision-making occurs as the White House makes noises about federal funding cuts for systems that don’t start with in-person classes.
So, it felt like a good time to re-visit what Louisville Power Pollers think about the latest turns in the vicious twists of this dreadful pandemic.
It was tough, but we confined the poll to just three questions. They centered on school, the governor’s actions, the attorney general’s reaction — but they represented the very big issues of public health, reasonable response to maintaining it, the tug between liberty and safety, behind each of them.
Sixty of 245 queried responded, a rate of 24.49 percent, and Gov. Beshear’s support among respondents continues to hold.
On to the questions, and your responses:
Last week, Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio announced his plan for 98,000 students to start school on Aug. 25 — in nontraditional, meaning non-classroom, instruction, and to re-evaluate the plan after six weeks. In advance of Tuesday's School Board meeting, news reports said a majority of members would vote to start the new school year with nontraditional instruction because of COVID-19. What best describes your reaction to starting Louisville's new public school year in Louisville outside the classroom?
75 percent agreed with the decision to start the public school year with remote learning.
23 percent said they preferred a plan more amenable to families that could afford to keep sheltering in place.
Only one respondent agreed with the Trump administration’s threat to cut funding if schools didn’t start in person.
Postscript: The board voted unanimously to start the school year with remote learning.
Do you agree with Gov. Andy Beshear's 30-day mandate requiring Kentuckians to wear masks when in public places, in order to stem COVID-19?
92 percent said they agreed with Beshear’s mask mandate; only 8 percent did not.
Do you agree with Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron challenging in court the governor's executive orders to deal with COVID-19, including the mandate to require masks?
82 percent disagreed with Attorney General Cameron’s decision to challenge Beshear’s executive orders in court.
18 percent agreed with Cameron’s legal challenge.
In addition to those responses, several of you left comments:
Hannah Drake: “While it is difficult, America needs to understand life as we once knew it is over. There is pre-COVID, COVID and post-COVID. Pre-COVID life is over. While difficult, the sooner we begin to mourn that and process that we can move on to what will now be. Louisville needs to start adapting. Life has changed. Until there is a cure, this is our new reality.”
Madonna Flood: “All decisions involving COVID-19 should be made from science, not political will of any party — period.”
Nat Irvin: “The Cameron response is a general reflection of the lack of understanding of COVID-19 ... we are clueless about the true severity of this moment in human history ...”
Until next month, wash your hands, wear your masks, social distance ... and please take care.
About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.