Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that he signed an executive order mandating face masks be worn in public.

“If someone won’t wear a mask in your place of business, then they cannot be served,” he said.

Under the new rule, he said masks or face coverings must be worn in “most” forward-facing businesses and whenever someone is unable to social distance 6 feet from another person they do not live with, both inside or outside.

The order includes:

  • retail and grocery stores.
  • restaurants or bars (when not seated, eating or drinking).
  • pharmacies.
  • health care settings.
  • hair and nail salons.
  • tattoo parlors.
  • child care facilities.
  • public or private transportation.

“This is to protect the employees, to protect the businesses and to protect the customers themselves,” Beshear said.

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday and will run for 30 days, during which Beshear said he wants to see “how well we can do.”

“Our future in what we can do in this state, how our economy rebounds, how safe our people are going to be, the health and the lives of Kentuckians – all depends on our ability to wear (a mask),” he said.

“It’s no longer voluntary – it’s mandatory, and I’m willing to take whatever criticism comes with that.”

Local health departments will enforce the order. Children under 5 years old and people with certain health conditions are exempt.

Beshear cited health experts who say wearing face coverings can decrease the spread of COVID-19 by almost 65%.

The new law comes after Kentucky saw its highest weekly cases increase last week with 1,675 new cases, and the highest daily case increase Wednesday, with 402 new cases.

On Thursday, the governor announced 333 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 18,245, of which 754 are probable.

Avoiding a continued increase is “really going to come down to whether we let personal pride, or some belief that we have liberty to spread this thing to others, and therefore shouldn’t have to wear something like this,” he said.

Cases are also on the rise across the country as the U.S. reported its highest daily case increase Tuesday with 60,021 new cases.

Beshear said as of Thursday at least 22 states have implemented some form of a mask mandate.

The governor also repeatedly mentioned recent case surges in other states, including Arizona and Florida, where intensive care units are reaching capacity.

As of Thursday in Kentucky, about 27% of ICU beds are open, nearly 40% of hospital beds are available and roughly 70% of ventilators are not in use.

Asked about businesses that do not enforce the mask mandate, Beshear said an initial warning will be given, but “chronic refusal” may result in a fine or closure.

In regard to a court ruling temporarily restraining enforcement of COVID-19 emergency orders against 548 Kentucky agritourism businesses, Beshear called it “dangerous and devastating.”

“For a court to say ‘I guess I just don’t believe the virus exists, you don’t have to do anything, no social distancing, nothing else’ – is absolutely irresponsible,” he said.

The ruling also temporarily blocks the governor from issuing or enforcing emergency orders unless a new process is followed. Beshear said that decision is “absolutely wrong under the law,” and he is appealing it.

Additionally, Beshear said Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who joined the lawsuit last week, is the only state attorney general in the U.S. suing its governor over coronavirus-related restrictions.

If Kentuckians do not follow emergency orders, Beshear said there will be more cases and deaths, parts of reopening the economy will have to be rolled back and opening schools will be “at risk.”

In a news release, Cameron said: “The governor cannot issue broad, arbitrary executive orders apart from the requirements of state law, and the judge agreed. ... This is a clear win for the rule of law and will help Kentucky families and businesses across the commonwealth who have suffered and continue to suffer financial losses and economic hardship because of the governor’s executive orders.”

Coronavirus

Beshear said Thursday the state virus-related death toll rose to 612, with four newly confirmed deaths.

At least 461,756 people have been tested, 4,939 people have recovered and 457 are hospitalized, 105 who are in intensive care.

Barren River District Health Department officials announced 2,545 total cases in its eight-county district, including 1,698 in Warren, 259 in Butler, 250 in Logan, 110 in Barren, 86 in Simpson, 78 in Edmonson, 50 in Hart and 14 in Metcalfe. Of those, 1,923 people have reportedly recovered.

Health officials also reported 67 total virus-related deaths in the region as of Thursday, including 17 in both Warren and Logan, 14 in Butler, 12 in Edmonson, three in Simpson and two in both Barren and Metcalfe.

At least 15.5% of Warren County’s population of roughly 130,000 people has been tested as of Sunday, according to Emergency Management Director Ronnie Pearson.

There are at least 183 total coronavirus cases in Allen County, according to the Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River district.

Some daily totals may shift because of data being reported incorrectly. Additionally, numbers often differ between the state and local sources because of different reporting methods.

– Follow multimedia journalist Emily Zantow on Twitter @EmilyZantowNews or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow Multimedia Journalist Emily Zantow on Twitter @EmilyZantowNews or visit bgdailynews.com.

(6) comments

Enough Already

INSIDE EVERY LIBERAL IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT.

Andy is a liberal idiot and a team player for the democrat party. The potential reward is backing for a higher political office in the "new people's republic" of the USA. The teachers and the unions shot themselves in the foot with this fool. This will come back to bite him. Our stem of government does not allow laws to be declared by the executive branch but only through our legislative bodies. This is true of Federal government as well as state government. Andy would be king. Fight the power.

In Texas these kinds of edicts are not being enforced everywhere because their legality is in question. Our county sheriff and police chief needs to do the same.

"At least nine Texas counties have gone on record saying they will not be willing to issue citations for those who violate the order, questioning whether the governor even has the constitutional authority to enact it."

I know the truth

Why didnt the little dictator enforce the rules when he allowed 10s of thousands to protest? Could that be the reason (along with more testing) for higher positive numbers? This little dictator knows full well the important numbers are not going up. But he also knows there are old people and uninformed people that take the press by their word. Since June 18th (3 weeks ago) the number of people in ICU and today are almost the same. The number of people in the hospital from June 18th and today, July 9th are close to the same...minor differences. Out of 3000+ cases since June 18th till today...very few are in the hospital or ICU. That should tell all of us that most of that 3000 that tested positive over the past 3 weeks....are young healthy people. Most likely a lot of those are the same people this governor/dictator had no problem with breaking his rules. What an idiot we elected!

victoria

I am impressed if the numbers are going up in Warren County given the Zip Clinic Website provides appts, but the staff report the website isn't working. So, although people are sent a text message saying they will be notified 15 minutes prior to appt-that text never comes. The only tests at Zip Clinic are arrive in person and wait. The wait time is two hours or more of waiting in the car, in the heat. Only newer cars can stand idling for two hours or more without overheating; and tests no longer at Basil Griffith, Walmart, CVS. Hard to report cases if no/fewer tests.

ghost42103

The numbers of positives means very little. The number of deaths is key however that is being manipulated by doctors and medical facilities to make money off the Chinese virus. The virus is real but the response is a hoax.

ghost42103

Meanwhile, Andy had zero new deaths to report! This guy is a total loser. I'd really like to thank all you teachers out there for electing him. He says nice things. Good luck with your pension system. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Frances E. Marion

Solemn Andy: “no mask no service”

Restaurants: “whatever limp little man”

Teachers: “yay Solemn Andy”

Solemn Andy: “Shut your mouths while I raid your pension system.....AGAIN. Hahahahaha”

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