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Gov says Kentucky succeeded by putting science over politics

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday declared his state’s fight against COVID-19 a “success story” as he ended most pandemic restrictions, and said his state lessened the crisis because residents put science ahead of politics.

The Democratic governor, who confronted protests, lawsuits and impeachment petitions over his virus-related executive actions, expressed frustration that mask mandates meant to slow the virus’ spread became a “question of liberty.”

Bringing the coronavirus under control required collective efforts of Democrats and Republicans, offering a lesson to move beyond the partisan strife that “can just be toxic,” Beshear said in an interview with The Associated Press, the first interview he’s given in person in more than a year.

Shortly before announcing he was lifting capacity restrictions for restaurants, bars and other public venues, Beshear said the pandemic was “a test of our humanity” and posed “the single deadliest threat” of his lifetime. Kentucky’s virus-related death toll has surpassed 7,000.

“When you look at our response, I think you see a success story and that’s obviously comparative and based on what could have happened,” he said.

Kentucky “beat back” three surges of infection without having its hospitals overrun with virus patients, Beshear said. The rollout of vaccinations was “pretty successful,” with more than 2.1 million Kentuckians having received at least one dose of vaccine, he said.

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