Kentucky’s attorney general, already a reviled figure for the way he handled the investigation into the killing of Breonna Taylor, is now trying to overturn the governor’s mandate for children to wear masks in schools as the COVID-19 delta variant ravishes the state.
The logic followed by Daniel Cameron, a Republican who was famously called a “sellout” by activist Tamika Mallory, suggests he’s prioritizing politics over the health of students, including and especially the youngest ones who are not old enough to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday instituted the mask mandate for schools via an executive order that Cameron called “unlawful.”
It is now up to the state’s Supreme Court to determine what happens next.
Cameron, who has been described as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “protégé and heir apparent, said it’s not the mandate he’s against. Instead, it’s the method through which Beshear enacted it that he has a problem with. He said Beshear “ignored” a Kentucky Circuit Court’s “binding injunction” against the governor’s mandate.
“Yesterday, the Governor directly ignored the court and engaged in an unlawful exercise of power by issuing his executive order,” Cameron said in a brief statement he tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Cameron went on to imply that he doubted “the science” informing national public health officials’ recommendations that students from kindergarten on up through high school wear masks in schools.
Read Cameron’s full statement below.
Several Republican governors have moved to prevent such mandates in their states. But Beshear, reacting to Kentucky’s hospitals rapidly filling up because of the exponentially contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, said on Tuesday during a media briefing about the pandemic that it was “time to sound the alarm.”
One doesn’t need to follow any science to see the public health consequences of taking delayed action, or none at all, when it comes to the spread of the delta variant, which has been increasingly causing so-called “breakthrough” infections that are sickening people including those who are fully vaccinated.
As of last Friday, there were 98 counties in Kentucky that were in the so-called “Red Zone,” a designation reserved for an infection rate of more than 25 for every 100,000 people. While that may not sound like much, local news outlet the Winchester Sun noted that the state didn’t have any “red zone” areas just one month ago — an indication of how fast the delta variant is spreading. Chances are those numbers have increased since then.
Beshear called the infection rate “absolutely alarming” and appealed to his constituents to listen to his reasoning.
“Yesterday we surpassed a half-million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began,” Beshear tweeted on Tuesday. “While we’ve done better than other states, we are now once again facing a challenge with the aggressive delta variant. Let us come together to do the right thing to protect our people.”
The development in Kentucky is a microcosm for what’s happening across the country as political and ideological — not scientific — rifts widen over the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccine.
Wednesday was just the latest time that Cameron has seemingly tried to do what’s in his best interest instead of the people he was elected to serve.
Cameron famously rigged the grand jury proceedings so that jurors never had the option to criminally charge any of the police officers responsible for killing Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was gunned down in her own home last year as the Louisville Metro Police Department executed a no-knock warrant while searching for someone who was already in police custody. In fact, one grand juror even suggested that Cameron may have even lied to the panel.
That prompted Mallory, who was on the front lines of protests demanding justice for Taylor, to call out Cameron based on his clear and deliberate actions.
“I thought about the ships that went into Fort Monroe and Jamestown with our people on them over 400 years ago and how there were also Black men on those ships that were responsible for bringing our people over here,” Mallory said in September after the grand jury indicted just one the three cops who shot at Taylor in a charge that did not hold him accountable for the preventable police violence. “Daniel Cameron is no different than the sellout negroes that sold our people into slavery and helped White men to capture our people, to abuse them, and to traffic them while our women were raped, while our men were raped by savages.”