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COVID-19: Another Record Number of Cases as Mask Mandate Begins

426 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Kentucky were announced by Governor Andy Beshear on Friday, the highest single-day total since the pandemic began, when not counting an earlier date in which hundreds of cases emerged at the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City.

The announcement came less than an hour before Beshear's executive order mandating face masks in most public areas was set to go into effect at 5 p.m.

Among the new cases were roughly a dozen children, Beshear said.

Eight additional deaths were also reported, including an 89-year old man from Grant County. Boone County was listed by the governor as being among the Kentucky counties that had more than ten confirmed positive cases, with 11.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced Friday just before Beshear's press briefing that he was asking a Scott County judge whether a Thursday ruling disrupting Beshear's executive orders also applied to the mask mandate.

Cameron said that the Scott Co. judge's decision places a temporary restraining order on Beshear's COVID-19 executive orders "that are not in compliance with state law."

"Had the governor consulted with our office and the leadership of the General Assembly on his order prior to its issuance, this step would have been unnecessary," Cameron said in a statement. "The governor has refused input on his executive orders, despite offers of assistance. This pattern has led to numerous challenges in court, all of which he has lost.

"To be clear, the request we are making to the court today is not about whether or not it is appropriate to wear a mask.  It is my belief that masks are an important tool in fighting this pandemic. It is, however, about determining if the Governor’s executive order mandating mask use follows state law.  As the chief law officer for the Commonwealth, it is my duty to raise this question before the court and ensure that the law is followed.”

Beshear said that his office is appealing the Scott Co. decision, which may end up in the state Supreme Court, and that while media reports may characterize these legal battles as the governor against the attorney general, that is not the case.

"It's the people of Kentucky versus the coronavirus," Beshear said. "I just want to do the right thing to help our people and I'll go through whatever courts we have to to get there."

Meanwhile, Beshear remains steadfast that his executive order on masks still goes into effect at 5 p.m.

"You want to know why we have to step up our game? It's because COVID-19 is stepping up its game," Beshear said. "More people are testing positive and it's not just because of more tests."

The governor said that Kentucky's statewide positive rate, which shows the percentage of people testing positive among those who are tested overall, was 2.47% two weeks ago. Last week, it was 2.87 percent.

This week, the rate has climbed to 4.5%.

"It shows you what's happening. We can address this and we can do it now," he said. "Keep your distance, wash your hands, follow the rules and restrictions at work and at home, don't leave the home if you don't have to, reduce your contacts, and wear your mask."

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