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Face Mask Mandate Extended in Ky.; Another NKY COVID Death Reported

Governor Andy Beshear extended his mask mandate across Kentucky for another thirty days.

The governor issued the original order in early July in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, Beshear said that the facial coverings are part of the reason that cases appear to be going down again.

“By now, we all know someone that we care about, that we’re close to who is fighting this virus or has fought this virus. And as things progress, we will all probably know somebody who we have lost to this virus. This is going to be a month where I hope we turn things around, but based on July, we’re still going to see a lot of pain,” Beshear said.

“So let’s make sure that we protect our mental and emotional health, stay as committed as we’ve always been to defeating this virus and step it up.”

On Monday, Beshear expects to have additional guidance for bars and restaurants in the state. Last month, he ordered bars to close and restaurants to reduce its indoor dining capacity from 50% to 25%.

“Expectations ought to be that capacity will increase again to 50% but there will be some changes. Especially in restaurants, we need people to still prioritize outdoor seating,” said Beshear. “Bars and restaurants are both going to be expected to have their last item served at 10 p.m. Then there is going to be an hour to let people eat and drink and ultimately go home.”

Beshear also announced 516 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kentucky, bringing the state's total to 33,254 since the pandemic began. Twelve of those cases involved children aged five and under.

In Northern Kentucky, 55 new cases were confirmed, bringing the four-county region's total to 2,960.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department announced two COVID-related deaths in the region on Thursday. Beshear included a 68-year old man from Kenton County in his announcement of eight new deaths across the state on Thursday.

The state and local health departments are not always on the same calendar when releasing COVID data.

“We appear to not just be slowing, but we hope stopping any escalation that we’ve seen. It’s further evidence that wearing that facial covering is truly helping Kentucky in so many different ways – our people, our economy, our kids,” said Beshear. “So let’s keep it up. I believe that if we continue to do this, we can see even better numbers than what we have now.”

As of Thursday, there have been at least 674,490 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate currently stands at 5.51%, unchanged from Wednesday. At least 8,523 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

“We know the deaths follow large numbers of cases and that we’re going to have days when it’s really hard to read that list. But I do feel hopeful. I do feel optimistic that if we do wear that facial covering that we have found a way to stop what was going to be devastating,” said Beshear.

Beshear also announced that the Kentucky State Fair will be limited to participants only, eliminating the exhibitions, the amusement rides, entertainment, and food vendors.

“By hosting a participant-only event, fair officials can more effectively enforce social distancing and facial covering requirements as well as gather the necessary information to perform contact tracing,” said Beshear. “I appreciate the board’s willingness to be agile, and their efforts to ensure that the health and safety of Kentuckians remains a top priority.”

The Kentucky State Fair will be held Aug. 20-30 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville.

The World’s Championship Horse Show will be held without spectators and adhere to the U.S. Equestrian Federation COVID-19 guidelines.

“We believe the decision will allow Kentucky to continue our tradition of highlighting the state’s premiere agriculture and equestrian industry while prioritizing the health and safety of Kentuckians,” said Beshear.

“We are proud that we are having the fair, but obviously the health and safety of our community is uppermost in our minds and we’re delighted that we will at least be able to have the horse show and livestock contestants, the 4H-ers and the FFA kids,” said Steve Wilson, chair of the State Fair Board.

-Staff report

Photo: Face mask at the RCN office (RCN file)

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