Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear along with First Lady Britainy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman participated in a memorial flag ceremony at the state Capitol in Frankfort to commemorate more than 3,300 Kentuckians who lost their lives to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rev. Tonya Kenner of First United Methodist Church in Frankfort began the ceremony with an opening prayer along with soloist Keith Dean, who sang the Gospel hymn, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”
Beshear and Coleman spoke briefly about the endurance and resilience of Kentuckians during the pandemic. They said Kentucky is administering safe and effective vaccines faster than the federal government is providing new doses in the state. Beshear said Kentucky will continue to be in a dangerous situation regarding the virus until more people receive a vaccine. He said the best way to honor those we have lost is to protect others.
“Every flag you see represents a real Kentuckian, one who was and is loved by their families and friends, who meant something to the communities in which they lived,” Beshear said. “Each and every loss is singular and heartbreaking."
The state leaders held American flags and placed them at spots around the Capitol, dedicating them to various frontline groups in the state. Coleman dedicated her flag to educators.
“We grieve for the more than 3,000 Kentuckians who lost their lives to this virus. In a state as tight-knit as ours, one loss is too many. 3,000 is utterly devastating,” Coleman said. “I am dedicating my flag to the education community including Simone Parker, who taught science at Trigg County High School for 19 years and passed away two weeks ago.”
First Lady Beshear’s flag honored every parent, child and family member who has lost a loved one to this virus.
Gov. Beshear said the flag he placed was in honor of front-line health care workers lost to the coronavirus, including Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, a physician and infectious disease specialist in Bowling Green who was 62 when she died of the coronavirus in early September.
“Let us also show them the respect they deserve by continuing to do what is right to protect those around us,” Gov. Beshear said. “Masking up, maintaining social distance, avoiding crowds and getting the vaccine when your turn comes around: All of these measures are desperately needed and show that you care about your fellow Kentuckians and honor these terrible losses” Beshear said.
Beshear also announced the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate has fallen to the lowest rate since Jan. 2, now at 10.80%.
Friday’s COVID-19 report for Kentucky includes 2,756 newly reported COVID-19 cases along with 36 deaths. This brings the total number of deaths to 3,337.
Currently, there are 1,561 people hospitalized and 387 receiving intensive care. 195 people are on a ventilator.
Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled the name of Kentucky First Lady Britainy Beshear.