Universal masking recommended in Kentucky school districts

“We would beat the delta variant almost immediately if everyone got vaccinated.”
Gov. Beshear provides update on spread of delta variant in Kentucky
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 3:43 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WXIX) - Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday provided three recommendations to school districts in Kentucky to mitigate the spread of the delta variant.

The recommendations (listed below) come as the variant threatens schools with frequent large-scale interruptions owing to its increased transmissibility.

“The delta variant spreads quickly and aggressively among unvaccinated people of all ages,” Beshear said. “It spreads at a rate where, by the time you found out about it, you’d have to do regular, large quarantines.”

School districts “wishing to optimize safety and minimize the risk of educational and athletic disruption” should implement universal masking, according to the recommendations.

Beshear said a mask mandate is not off the table if Kentucky sees “out of control spread in our school systems” but added he expects to see enough buy-in to the recommendations that such a mandate won’t be necessary.

Recommendations for Kentucky schools in the fall.
Recommendations for Kentucky schools in the fall.(WXIX)

The delta variant is as much as three-fold more infectious than the original virus, according to Kentucky Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack.

The variant is also reinfecting previously infected people at three-fold the rate of the original virus, Stack said.

The variant comprises almost every new COVID-19 case in Kentucky, according to Beshear, and new cases are being driven by the unvaccinated.

Dr. Stack says cases are escalating rapidly and are five-fold what they were at the beginning of July. The positivity rate is near 8 percent.

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions due to COVID-19 are up three-fold since the beginning of July, according to Kentucky public health data.

So-called “breakthrough cases” are occurring in vaccinated people, though the outcomes are generally less severe, meaning fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

The ratio of new cases among unvaccinated people compared to vaccinated people is 8:1, Stack said, reflecting that the vaccines give folks eight-fold the protection against contracting the virus (and even larger protection against severe outcomes) than normal.

“We would beat the delta variant almost immediately if everyone got vaccinated,” Beshear said.

Stack agreed: “This is a vaccine-manageable condition. This should not be happening.”

Kentucky’s 30,000 vaccinations last week represent an increase of around 5,000 from its weekly average over the previous month.

Stack’s message to those who have not gotten vaccinated: “The rest of society is tired of begging you to get this protection.”

Vaccinations in Kentucky
Vaccinations in Kentucky(WXIX)

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