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Gov. Beshear Receives Praise For His Handling Of Coronavirus Pandemic

NOEL KING, HOST:

In Kentucky, there are at least 120 cases of COVID-19, and so 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time has become very important to people who live there because that is when they get to hear Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

ANDY BESHEAR: All right, good afternoon. This is our 5:00 p.m...

This is our 5 o'clock...

Our 5:04...

Our 5 o'clock update on the coronavirus.

KING: Every day, he assures his constituents.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

BESHEAR: We're going to make it through this.

We're going to make it through this.

I want to start the way we always start, and that's reaffirming that we will get through this.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Governor Beshear's briefings started weeks ago. Erin Keane only recently realized they were becoming a thing. She is editor-in-chief of Salon and based in Kentucky.

ERIN KEANE: I was noticing that my group texts of, like, Louisville-based friends - which are mostly but not entirely women - they were citing, like, what Andy said or, you know, ooh, I have to go watch Andy; it's time for beers with Beshear at 5 o'clock (laughter).

KING: The governor's calming presence and his use of repetitive catchphrases in addition to his fast action during this crisis has led to a kind of online crush.

INSKEEP: Yeah, it's a little like Andrew Cuomo of New York - people are paying attention well beyond his jurisdiction. An ocean of memes and videos celebrates Beshear - Beshear as Mr. Rogers, as Captain America, as Ryan Gosling. Keane, who wrote a story about Beshear fandom, says the briefings have become must-see TV.

KEANE: And all the sort of, like, reassuring cast of characters, too, has suddenly injected, I think, a lot of Kentuckians with a sense of stability and predictability during a time when the news cycle is moving so fast.

KING: People in other states may be a little envious or offering to trade their governors for Beshear. And you can even get in Andy Bae-shear (ph) T-shirt.

KAYLA FUGATE: I like to call him Daddy Andy just because I look forward to 5 p.m. Eastern Time so he can tell me that it's going to be OK.

INSKEEP: Kayla Fugate is a public defender in Bowling Green, Ky., and part of a Facebook group - a 100,000-member Facebook group - that is dedicated to praising Governor Beshear's handling of the pandemic.

KING: Chase Hale (ph) of Corbin, Ky., is also impressed.

CHASE HALE: He really puts everybody at ease, and I've appreciated that he has taken some really firm action on this. He's just been very decisive and tactful with his words, and I feel like I've not been left in the dark in any way.

KING: Hale is a registered Republican, but he says he'd consider voting for the Democrat Beshear in the next election.

INSKEEP: Wait a minute - someone crossing party lines to vote? That would be the strangest development yet. This is NPR News.

KING: Can I laugh at that? (Laughter).

INSKEEP: Yes...

KING: That was really funny (laughter).

INSKEEP: Yes, you can laugh at that.

KING: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.