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Beshear hopes 'critical mass' of Kentuckians wearing masks can keep state economy open

Fall sports, school reopenings depend on mask use
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Posted at 3:57 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 17:01:48-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear said that getting a "critical mass" of Kentuckians covering their faces would help curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect the state's three goals of health and safety, keeping the economy open and reopening schools in the fall.

Last week, an executive order went into effect requiring Kentuckians to wear masks in most public spaces. The order also requires restaurants, bars and businesses to enforce a "no mask, no service" rule.

“It creates a clear bright line that each of our businesses need to be following,” Beshear said Monday.

Beshear said local health department officials have been checking on grocery stores and large retail stores for compliance, adding that law enforcement can respond if someone “refuses” to leave a place of business where they were denied service for not wearing a mask. Read more about that order and its exceptions here.

Beshear said wearing a mask is the best way to make sure that events like fall sports and school reopenings can happen in Kentucky, even as many states are having to "significantly roll back their reopenings."

"I don't want that to be us, and I hope you don't either," Beshear said Monday.

Ky. case numbers

Beshear reported 277 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky Monday, and he said he expects Tuesday's numbers to be higher after the weekend. Eleven of the new cases have been in children under age 5, with the youngest just four months old.

“Let’s remember this impacts our children, too," he said.

Kentucky reports 629 total coronavirus-related deaths out of 19,653 virus cases since the beginning of the pandemic in March. Nearly 5,000 people have recovered from the virus, and the state has tested 480,372 people as of Monday.

NKY Health reports that 1,914 people in Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties have tested positive for coronavirus since March and 79 people have died of the virus as of Monday.

Beshear, who said one of his main concerns is that coronavirus could overwhelm the state's medical centers, reported that out of the state's hospital beds, 11,243 are currently occupied and 7,309 are available (60% occupancy).

Additionally, there have been 20 daycare staff members and nine children who have tested positive for COVID-19. In long-term care facilities, 2,217 residents and 1,090 staff have tested positive for the virus, and 406 residents and three staff members have reportedly died of the virus.

Beshear also announced that a pop-up Kroger Health testing site will open July 14 through July 16 at Summit View Academy, 5006 Madison Pike, Independence. Sign up online for a testing slot here.

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack reported that Kentucky’s case curve is going up, exacerbated by the reopening of facilities like daycares and resuming activities like youth sports workouts and practices. Stack said as case numbers rise the state expects more virus-related deaths to follow, but by using masks, social distancing and more testing availability, he said it’s up to Kentuckians to curb the spread.

“We’re starting the climb and the question is how tall is that first hill, you can impact how tall that first hill is,” Stack said.

Watch a replay of Monday's briefing in the player below: