(LEX 18) — In June, Kentucky got rid of almost all of its COVID-19 mandates. At the time, coronavirus cases were low.
About five weeks later, the situation has changed. Governor Andy Beshear says the highly contagious delta variant is responsible for Kentucky's COVID numbers increasing for three straight weeks. On Tuesday alone, the state saw 1,054 new coronavirus cases. The highest number of cases since March 11.
"This is one that can be deadly to just about anybody," said Beshear during his coronavirus update on Monday.
"It's the dominant variant in Kentucky and you ought to assume that if you get covid, it's going to be the delta variant at this point," he added.
Kentucky's spike has led the Beshear administration to issue new masking guidance.
That guidance advises:
- All unvaccinated Kentuckians to wear masks indoors when not in their home
- Kentuckians at higher risk from COVID-19 due to pre-existing conditions to wear masks indoors when not in their home
- Vaccinated Kentuckians in jobs with significant public exposure to consider wearing a mask at work; and
- All unvaccinated Kentuckians, when eligible, should get vaccinated immediately.
These points are recommendations as of now, not mandates.
"At this point, we don't think a mandate from state government would be effective and is not a step we are taking," said Beshear.
And as we approach a brand new school year, some are wondering: what about masks in schools?
Currently, the Kentucky Public Health Department recommends that all staff and students who have not been vaccinated wear masks indoors. Especially in classrooms where kids are under 12 because they can't get vaccinated, and COVID could spread quickly.
"One individual - if there's no social distancing or the rest - could cause a quarantine of the whole class and you can see how that could happen multiple times," said Beshear.
Right now, masking requirements are up to local school districts.