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Details on Kentucky's New 30-Day Mask Mandate

Governor Andy Beshear issued an executive order on Thursday that calls for the wearing of face coverings in many situations across Kentucky for the next thirty days.

The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state, which has seen its numbers increasing in recent days.

“The number one thing a mask can do is protect the health and the life of yourself and those around you,” the governor said. “It can make sure we don’t lose more people than we should, it can keep our cases down and it can help us to continue to reopen our economy.”

Beshear argued for both the health and economic concerns surrounding the ongoing pandemic.

He said that face coverings worn by individuals can lower the chances of their spreading the coronavirus, but also that it lowers the infection risk of those wearing the mask by 65%.

He also cited a recent Goldman Sachs study that suggested that a national mandate related to face masks would save the U.S. economy from losing 5% of its gross domestic product (GDP). Beshear said that 5% of Kentucky's gross state product alone is $10.4 billion.

Kentucky’s new executive order requires Kentuckians to wear face coverings under several circumstances for the next 30 days. The order will be evaluated during that time to determine any additional steps or extension, Beshear said.

333 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases were announced on Thursday bringing the state's total to 18,245 since the pandemic began.

“When we have higher numbers, it’s hitting all parts of our population,” said Beshear. “We have a dangerous and deadly virus out there and we are now seeing a regular increase in cases in Kentucky.”

Four new deaths were reported, bringing the state's total to 612.

As of Thursday, there have been at least 461,756 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. At least 4,939 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

“On hospital beds right now, occupancy is about 60%,” said Beshear. “This is a good number, this means right now we have a significant number of beds for those who get sick.”

The executive order states that face coverings will be required:

“While inside, or waiting in line to enter, any: retail establishment; grocery store; pharmacy; hair salon/barbershop; nail salon/spa; tattoo parlor; child care facility; restaurant or bar (when not seated and consuming food or beverage); health care setting, or; any other indoor public space in which it is difficult to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from all individuals who are not members of that person’s household;

“While waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit, or while riding in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle, or driving any of the above while customers are present; or

“While in outdoor public spaces in which the person cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet from all individuals who are not members of the person’s household and is not otherwise covered by previously issued guidance.”

There are several exemptions to the order, including children who are 5 or younger and any person with a disability, or a physical or mental impairment, that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering. To read the executive order and more exemptions, click here.

The new executive order is in addition to current Healthy at Work and Healthy at School guidance already in place for many businesses and schools.

The governor pointed to more than 3 million people having been infected with this deadly virus in the U.S and how hotspots like Arizona, Texas and Florida have seen sharp spikes in cases. He noted that health officials in those states are reporting an alarming uptick in use of ICU beds and a tightening of hospital capacity in general.

Beshear said Kentucky needed to take this step, requiring face coverings, so that we don’t have to take more drastic measures, like several other states that have seen spikes.

“We have worked too long and hard, and sacrificed too much, to squander the gains we have made in this fight,” he said.

Many across the commonwealth and nation have voiced support for more widespread use of face coverings and masks.

“We wholeheartedly support the Governor’s call to wear face masks in public,” said Garren Colvin, president and chief executive officer of St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “We know this is simply the most effective means of preventing transmission of COVID-19, and represents our best opportunity to diminish the ravaging effects of this pandemic until a vaccine is developed.”

“We support Gov. Beshear taking this additional step today to keep our members safe,” said John Stovall, president of Teamsters 783. “Masks will not only keep our hard-working employees healthy, but it will keep our economy going and moving forward on to the road to recovery.”

The issue is so important, the Governor said, that the Retail Industry Leaders Association is urging “every governor to require consumers who are not encumbered by a medical condition to wear masks when shopping or in public places.”

“The business community is supportive of wearing masks as a way to keep the economy going and to keep our workforce and fellow Kentuckians safe,” said Ashli Watts, president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “We will be reviewing Gov. Beshear’s executive order and providing feedback and comments to the administration.”

“We want our economy to be able to open safely. We want our schools to be able to open safely.  If the numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to surge, it won’t be safe,” said Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton. “Throughout this pandemic, Gov. Beshear has made the tough calls to keep Kentuckians safe. He’s doing that again today.”

“I strongly support Governor Beshear’s difficult decision to order mandatory mask-wearing in public. I believe it will slow the spread of the coronavirus, save lives and help us to keep our businesses open and our people working safely,” said Judge/Executive Mike Buchanon from Warren County. “Citizens should gladly support the mandatory mask policy. Wearing a mask is not a lot to ask and is the least we can do to protect our friends, neighbors and family members. Wearing a mask in public will help to slow the spread of the virus and allow us to get back to work, to rebuild our businesses and revive our previously strong economy.”

The Governor reminded everyone that he will host an additional press briefing on Friday, July 10, at 4 p.m.

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