Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that he has asked the state’s Historic Properties Advisory Commission to meet Friday and vote on removing the statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis from the Capitol Rotunda.
“It is long past due,” he said. “In this Capitol, in a place of honor – not in any historic context – we ought to want to be a welcoming place for every Kentuckian.”
The 15-foot marble sculpture has stood in the Capitol for more than 80 years and is in the same area as a bronze statue of fellow Kentucky native Abraham Lincoln. The men led opposing sides in the Civil War, during which then-President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 to free slaves within the Confederacy.
In 2015, the commission voted to keep the statue “as a symbol of the state’s divided past,” according to The Associated Press.
Confederate monuments have reemerged as a national flashpoint since the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes. Protesters decrying racism have targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities, and some state officials are considering taking them down.
In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sent a letter to the Joint Committee on the Library calling for removal of 11 Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. And a GOP-led Senate panel on Thursday approved a plan by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren to have the names of Confederate figures removed from military bases and other Pentagon assets. Several Republicans have broken from President Donald Trump on this issue, despite the White House’s pledge to veto any such legislation.
Beshear said Thursday he believes the commission will vote to remove the Davis statue, adding that if he didn’t call for a vote, people might question if he “acted appropriately under the law.” Beshear said there are “generally” three options for replacing the statue, including using the area as extra space or replacing it with either a permanent statue or rotating statues.
“I think it’s gonna be a really exciting opportunity for Kentuckians to come together and to make a decision on something new,” he said.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, pre-filed a bill Thursday requesting the Davis statue be removed and replaced with a statue of Kentucky native Carl Brashear, who was the first African American master diver in the U.S. Navy. Beshear said McDaniel’s proposal is “absolutely worthy of conversation.”
Beshear said the anticipated relocation of the Davis statue is in the Elkton-Todd County Park, where the Jefferson Davis Monument State Historic Site is located.
Beshear announced that modified visitation at long-term care facilities may begin July 15 and that testing all staff and residents for the virus at every state-run facility should be complete by the first week of July.
Beshear also announced 11,945 total coronavirus cases statewide, 308 of which are probable and 69 are newly confirmed. He said the low number of new cases is due to an issue with the national reporting system. Beshear said he believes the state is in a “new plateau,” during which new cases confirmed daily will “go back and forth” between 100 and 300.
Nine newly confirmed virus-related deaths bring the state total to 493, two of which are considered probable. At least 3,379 people have recovered, 514 are hospitalized and 81 are in intensive care. At least 308,786 total people have been tested statewide, which is about 7 percent of the state’s 4.4 million population.
He said that as the state reopens, the raw number of cases is not the metric that “matters the most.” Rather, it is the rate of hospitalizations, people in intensive care, ICU bed availability and positivity rate, he said.
“The question is, is it making people sick at a higher rate, or is this virus moving through at a safer, more manageable way?” he said.
In the Barren River District Health Department’s eight-county region, officials announced 1,840 total coronavirus cases Thursday, including 1,192 in Warren, 239 in Butler, 185 in Logan, 68 in Edmonson, 56 in Simpson, 57 in Barren, 36 in Hart and seven in Metcalfe. Of those, 1,214 people have reportedly recovered.
Meanwhile, the Barren River Area Development District’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which uses state health department data, showed 1,964 total cases Thursday in its 10-county region, including 1,184 in Warren, 240 in Butler, 178 in Logan, 123 in Allen, 63 in Edmonson, 59 in Barren, 57 in Simpson, 27 in Monroe, 26 in Hart and seven in Metcalfe.
The district’s virus-related death toll remains at 47, including 13 in Butler, 11 in Edmonson, eight in both Warren and Logan, three in Simpson and two in both Barren and Metcalfe.
There are at least 123 coronavirus cases in Allen County, according to an update from the Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River district.
Some daily case totals may shift due to a case being reported in the wrong county. Additionally, numbers often differ between the state and local sources because of different reporting methods.