End of Beshear’s Covid-19 press briefings Friday will signal, if not the end of the pandemic, the turning of a page and moving on
Gov. Andy Beshear’s regular press conferences about the coronavirus “provided a steady source of information, comforted some people and annoyed others and inadvertently spawned memes, merch and ‘Govern Me, Daddy’ jokes that caught fire online,” writes Morgan Watkins of the Louisville Courier Journal. “But through it all, they also gave a grim, running tally of the virus’ death toll in Kentucky. Beshear read out the latest deaths, day after day, and in brief moments those losses choked him up with a grief he didn’t hide.”
“For at least the past half-year, the ‘Team Kentucky’ rhetoric that you hear every day at the press conferences did not match reality,” Quarles said. “Team Kentucky” was the motto of Beshear’s 2019 election campaign and will remain the branding device for weekly press conferences to come.
Sarah Vos, a lecturer in the College of Public Health, “indicated Beshear’s briefings were pretty effective at providing useful data,” Watkins reports. “She said he gave out the latest numbers on coronavirus cases; modeled the behavior he was asking people to adopt, such as mask-wearing; and explained his reasoning for various decisions.”
Anna Hoover, a UK public-health professor, said Beshear did the best job of any governor she saw in following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s six principles of crisis and emergency risk communication: Be first; be right; be credible; express empathy; promote action; and show respect.
Hoover said Beshear’s events “did an especially good job of expressing empathy by acknowledging the myriad ways people were hurting and the lives lost,” Watkins writes. “While Beshear’s press conferences generally stayed centered on Covid-19, Hoover noted it wasn’t unusual for them to address unrelated topics. (To be fair, sometimes that was because reporters asked about other issues).”
Hoover said, “The further afield the press conferences got from the Covid issues, the focus got a little blurry sometimes. And it also opened those press conferences up to, I think, more criticism from other folks that perhaps they were being used for ways other than public-health information.”