With COVID on rise, Beshear makes mask recommendations

Published 8:24 am Tuesday, July 20, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – An increase of COVID-19 cases in Kentucky due to the Delta variant has led Gov. Andy Beshear and state public health officials to recommend that some people resume wearing masks in public settings as well as continuing to urge Kentuckians to get vaccinated.

“We have now had three straight weeks of increasing cases,” he said during a Monday press conference at the state Capitol. “And the rate of that increase is also increasing, as is the state’s positivity rate.”

The positivity rate on Monday was 5.48%, one week ago it was 3.38%, two weeks ago 2.47%, and on July 1 stood at 1.99%, according to the state’s website, kycovid19.ky.gov.

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The number of new cases reported to state public health officials in Kentucky on Monday was 240, bringing the total to 470,680 since the first case on March 6, 2020. There were also four new deaths, meaning 7.301 Kentuckians have now been lost to COVID-19.

“We have the most aggressive variant that we have seen to date in our battle against COVID. It’s a serious, even deadly, threat to unvaccinated Kentuckians,” Beshear said. “If more adults don’t get vaccinated, it’s not just adults who pay the price, it’s our kids who will. Many of them can’t get vaccinated yet, and they count on us to make good decisions and do the right thing.”

The vaccines are not recommended for children under 12.

As a result, Gov. Beshear issued some new recommendations. They include:
• All unvaccinated Kentuckians should wear masks indoors, when not at their home.

• Kentuckians at higher risk due to pre-existing conditions, should wear masks indoors when not at their home.

• Vaccinated Kentuckians in jobs with significant public exposure, should consider wearing a mask while at work.

• All unvaccinated Kentuckians, when eligible, should be vaccinated immediately.

“Getting vaccinated is a choice,” said state Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack. “We’ve said that all along. It’s your choice. It’s an incredibly important choice. It’s a choice that should you choose to get vaccinated, you protect yourself and also all the others who are both vaccinated and unvaccinated because the more of us who are vaccinated, the less the virus is able to spread, to infect people and to hurt people. If you choose not to get vaccinated, that is your choice as well, but it is a particularly dangerous choice.”

The governor quoted Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who was commissioner of the FDA during the Trump Administration. “The Delta variant is so contagious it will infect most unvaccinated people,” he stated during an appearance Sunday on the CBS-TV program Face the Nation. “It is going to be the most serious virus they will get in their lifetime, in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital.”

Beshear added, “I want to point out that Dr. Gottlieb was the FDA commissioner under the last president. We have never brought politics into what we do with COVID. We want to make sure we listen to experts that cross party or administration.”

All Kentuckians can sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment near where they live or work at vaccine.ky.gov.