Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell was in Owensboro for several private events on Monday.
During her visit, 44News anchor Jessica Hartman spoke with the senator one-on-one to discuss the state of the pandemic.
McConnell reacts to court ruling that limits governor’s power
The last time 44News spoke in person with the senator was in April of this year. By this time, vaccines had become available to a majority of the population. The Tri-State saw the impact of these vaccinations, with numbers steadily falling.
But in the past six to eight weeks, the pandemic has taken a worse turn. Kentucky reported record numbers in several categories on Monday, including hospitalizations, intensive care and ventilators.
The growing blows of the Delta variant come as the executive powers of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear are significantly limited by a state Supreme Court ruling. The court upheld new laws that divert power from the legislature during protracted emergencies.
When asked if he felt Governor Beshear had abused his power during the pandemic, Senator McConnell said: “I basically tried to avoid criticizing the governor except for a decision .I thought his decision to continue the 300 a week [federal unemployment payments] It was a mistake to put people back to work. “
The senator went on to say, “Where we are now, we know what works. The vaccine works; 90% of people in the hospital are not vaccinated. The answer to the problem is to get vaccinated. “
McConnell: The shutdown shouldn’t be the next step
Despite the rapidly growing number of cases in all three states and across the country, Senator McConnell does not think another judgment is the right decision.
“I can imagine any governor in the country will want to start over. It made sense when we didn’t have a vaccine. It doesn’t make sense now that we have it,” said Senator McConnell.
Pfizer approval offers hope
Just hours before 44News met the senator, Pfizer’s formula received full FDA approval. Senator McConnell is optimistic that this next step will encourage vaccines to get vaccinated.
“I hope so. I think part of the problem is social media,” Senator McConnell said. “A lot of people have their own opinion on this. It just doesn’t make sense.”
But when asked what he was doing to organize platforms for the dissemination of false information, the senator replied: “Well, we have free speech in this country and I think the government becoming the Speech font is also not a good idea. “
He went on to say, “I think all of us in positions of responsibility just have to keep saying over and over again, ‘This is not a matter of opinion. It is a fact that these vaccines work. “”
McConnell Supports Employer Mandates on Vaccines
Several companies in the three states have implemented vaccination mandates for employees. These policies, especially in places like Baptist Health Madisonville, have drawn backlash. Some employees have started petitions to end the rule.
Senator McConnell says he supports the right of business to choose. “What I am supporting is letting the people who run these companies do it themselves.”
When asked if he would encourage homeowners to implement the policy, the senator replied, “I encourage them to make decisions that make sense. And I repeat, we know it works.