‘Let’s not quit early:’ Beshear to extend mask mandate in Kentucky

“We’re not going to be wearing these things forever.”

‘Let’s not quit early:’ Beshear to extend mask mandate in Kentucky
Gov. Andy Beshear announced his intention Thursday to extend the state's mask mandate. (Source: Daniele Marzocchi)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday he plans to re-up Kentucky’s mask mandate for another 30 days.

The mandate’s 30-day extensions have been a routine feature of the pandemic in the commonwealth. But with vaccinations increasing and severe COVID-19 outcomes declining across the country, many states have dropped their respective mandates.

In explaining his decision on the mask mandate Thursday, Beshear cited scientific consensus on the importance of continued mask wearing until vaccines are widely available to everyone in May.

“Lets not quit early,” he said. “It is so close, and let’s not stop protecting each other(...) Otherwise, we are not providing the same protections to those who are waiting to get the vaccine as we did to those who have gotten it.”

The governor said he will lift the mandate when it is safe to do so. “We’re not going to be wearing these things forever,” he said.

As before, he declined Thursday to provide a timeline.

>> No firm benchmark for repealing health orders in Kentucky, Beshear says

Beshear extended Kentucky’s mask mandate until March 29 at the end of February. He has extended it in regular 30-day intervals since the order was issued last July.

Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday his state’s mask mandate will become a mask advisory on April 6. Each Indiana business will have discretion to require masks in their premises.

There is no firm date for dropping the mask mandate in Ohio. Rather, Gov. Mike DeWine set an empirical threshold measured in Ohio’s case incident rate.

As of Thursday, Ohio’s incident rate appears to be going in the wrong direction.

Good News in LTC Facilities

No new COVID-19 cases were reported among long-term care residents Thursday for the first time in memory, according to Beshear.

“A year has been a long time, and I can’t remember the last day when our update was zero here. Just incredible,” he said.

Four new COVID-19 cases were reported among LTC staff members. Currently there are 57 active LTC resident cases and 88 active staff cases statewide.

“These numbers continue to tick down,” the governor continued, “proof that the vaccines are working. They are our ticket out of this.”

COVID Update

Kentucky recorded 726 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the lowest Thursday number in a month.

The state also recorded 19 new virus-related deaths and 88 additional deaths resulting from the state’s ongoing death audit.

Kentucky’s positivity rate is 2.92 percent.

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