Lawmakers ask health officials about new mask mandate

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Posted at 6:37 PM, Jul 13, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Wearing a mask continues to be a topic of conversation across the country, and the discussion continued in Frankfort Monday morning.

The Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee met inside the Capitol Annex to ask health officials about the new mask mandate.

The hearing opened with a question that focused on the science behind the mandate."It is the shared opinion of every public health professional I have interacted with that the scientific evidence at this time overwhelmingly supports face masks as being an integral steps in getting our economy opened, our businesses reopened, while still controlling the spread of this potentially fatal disease," said Dr. Steven Stack, the Kentucky Commissioner for Public Health.

Senator Stephen West (R-Paris) says they wanted to talk with Dr. Stack and Eric Friedlander, the secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, because there are concerns from business owners about potential liability and due process."The reason there are so many questions today is that this reg has not gone through the normal statutory process in the legislature, and really, hasn't had a hearing. So this is the first real chance that the legislature will have to speak on this," said Sen. West.Wesley Duke, general counsel for the Cabinet of Health and Family Services, says they are working to provide more guidance to businesses in how to enforce the new mandate.

If a customer doesn't want to wear a mask, Duke says first, the business owner should warn and educate the customer. If that doesn't work, ask them to leave. If they refuse, contact the local health department, or even law enforcement.

When asked if he felt the order was constitutional, Duke said yes.

One state representative pointed out the freedom she felt when wearing a face covering."It's simple. It doesn't interfere with my liberty. My liberty is interfered with by someone who doesn't wear a mask and exposes me and my 94 year-old mother-in-law," said Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville.)Senator Julie Raque Adams says she supports the executive order, but wants more communication from the governor's office to navigate the COVID-19 response."If we keep up that communication, I think we can get these questions answered for many of our constituents, many of our businesses, and we can have a real positive experience with this. But communication is key," said Adams (R-Louisville).While defending Governor Beshear's response, Senator Reggie Thomas (D-Lexington) made his priority during the pandemic clear.

"I'm all for saving lives. I think that's far more important than saving jobs," said Sen. Thomas.

Senator West says he hopes to have an immediate public hearing to discuss the issue of requiring a face mask. The current date for that is September 28, and he wants to have it sooner.