Kentucky’s mask mandate likely to be extended past 30 days

Gov. Beshear provides Tuesday update on COVID-19 in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky’s 30-day mask mandate is likely to be extended, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.

The governor said in his Tuesday media briefing masks are critical to restaurants and bars being able to reopen and described masks as the “best way to get back to the old normal, or something close to it.”

Currently the mask mandate expires August 10.

Beshear announced Monday the closure of all bars in Kentucky for two weeks and a 25-percent indoor capacity limit for restaurants over the same timespan.

On Tuesday Beshear explained the rationale for reducing restaurant capacities, saying contact tracing has shown 17 percent of Kentucky’s known case clusters have originated in restaurants.

Asked what data points he would consider in deciding whether to renew the restaurant and bar orders in two weeks’ time, Beshear said he would look for a declining positivity rate, stabilized case reports and no “spike” days where case reports abruptly jump into the 8-900 range.

He allowed for the possibility that Kentucky’s cases might plateau at a level higher than their previous plateau in June, when new cases numbered around 150 per day.

So long as cases stabilize, the governor said he expects to be able to increase restaurant capacity limits by mid-August.

Tuesday’s report might have provided the first encouraging signs that stabilization, though Beshear cautioned against forming conclusions based on it alone.

The governor reported 532 new cases, a figure that’s below the state’s 10-day average.

Beshear has reported lower figures over the last 10 days, but those days were preceded or followed by case spikes, something to watch for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Kentucky’s rolling 7-day positivity rate dipped to 5.08 percent Tuesday, the first time it has fallen in four days, Beshear said.

Its reproduction rate (R naught) dipped as well. Currently it stands at 1.16, according to open-source website, which draws data from the COVID tracking project.

Beshear also reported 10 newly confirmed COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the state’s total to 719, of which 474 have come from long-term care facilities.

Tuesday’s case report comes 18 days after the governor announced Kentucky’s statewide mask mandate — that is, just in time for the mandate to bear out in the case numbers.

Indeed, since last week Beshear has pinpointed Monday and Tuesday of this week as days the mandate’s effect in reducing cases could begin to appear. Today the governor said he hopes the case report shows just that.

“It’s too early to draw conclusions,” the governor said, “but I hope this is us starting to see the facial requirement help.”

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