COVID-19: "We Are No Longer in Crisis"; Beshear Lifts Nearly All Restrictions
Governor Andy Beshear delivered his final regularly-scheduled COVID-19 briefing on Friday, announcing the end to the statewide mask mandate for most settings and ending capacity limits for restaurants, bars, and other public venues.
The mask mandate had already been listed for those who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations.
A new executive order keeps the mask requirement in place only in certain high-risk settings identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: public transit, long-term care facilities and health care facilities.
Since last March, Kentucky has seen more than 461,000 positive COVID-19 cases and more than 7,100 deaths.
But numbers in recent months have improved dramatically, particularly since the release of three available vaccines. More than 1.7 million people in the state are fully vaccinated against the virus and more than 2.1 million have received at least one dose, representing 40 and 48% of the population, respectively.
All people over the age of 12 are eligible to receive a vaccine.
There were 237 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday with a positivity rate in the state of just over 2%. Cases have declined 93% since January and deaths are down 95%. Hospitalized people also dropped by 83% since January.
“Today, we are lifting the final restrictions put in place to keep our people safe during this once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic,” said Beshear. “COVID-19 remains deadly. Our war against it is not yet won. But after more than 15 months of struggle and sacrifice, we can also say this: While COVID-19 remains a threat, we are no longer in crisis.”
“We would not be here today were it not for the collective effort of so many Kentuckians,” said Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack. “While I wish it weren’t for this reason, it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to come into Kentuckians’ lives and to serve with the team at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, as well as with local health departments across the state. Thank you, Team Kentucky, and here’s to a better summer ahead.”
The governor said he would not yet end the commonwealth’s state of emergency because major programs, grants, and executive orders that continue to help Kentuckians impacted by COVID-19 would be at risk if it weren’t still in place, he argued, citing a $96 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for vaccine distribution and administration.
Beshear expressed sympathy for the families of those lost to the virus.
“Reading the ages and counties of the dead, almost daily, is the hardest thing I have ever done,” said Beshear. “We are in the process of developing a permanent monument that will replace that sea of flags on the Capitol lawn representing every Kentuckian lost to COVID-19, which I hope will inspire generations of future leaders to think about these Kentuckians, these families and the challenges of these times.”
Photo via Governor's Office