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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Beshear requires masks, Calloway gets 100th case

Gov. Andy Beshear discusses mask effectiveness during a press conference on July 9.

Elizabeth Erwin

Public Relations Manager

[email protected]

On July 9, as the Calloway County Health Department confirmed its 100th case of COVID-19, Gov. Andy Beshear announced a new executive order requiring Kentuckians to wear masks.

The executive order comes as other states across the country adopt mask requirements to combat a national increase of coronavirus cases. On July 8, Kentucky had 402 new cases of the virus – the highest single day increase for the state as of print time.

“The No. 1 thing a mask can do is protect the health and the life of yourself and those around you,” Beshear said. “It can make sure we don’t lose more people than we should, it can keep our cases down and it can help us to continue to reopen our economy.”

Kentucky’s mask mandate will go into effect on July 10 at 5 p.m. and last for 30 days. Beshear said he wanted to see where Kentucky was at in 30 days before extending the order further.

According to the executive order, masks will be required while inside or waiting in line to enter any retail establishment including grocery stores, pharmacies and hair/nail salons. A mask will also be required in restaurants when a person is not seated or consuming food or beverage. The order extends to include “any other indoor public space in which it is difficult to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from all individuals who are not members of that person’s household.”

Outside of retail establishments and restaurants, the executive order also requires masks “while waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit, or while riding in a taxi; private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle, or driving any of the above while customers are present.”

Masks and/or face coverings will also be required in outdoor public spaces in which people are unable to maintain social distancing with those outside of their household.

The executive order does have exemptions for certain circumstances such as children who are five or younger and those with a disability/impairment that prevents them from safely wearing a mask, such as severe asthma. The order also exempts a mask for anyone who is actively engaged in exercising as long as the person is able to maintain social distancing.

Beshear said that recent research from health experts has shown wearing a mask can decrease the risk of infection by almost 65 percent.

“So if you weren’t willing to do it for other people before,” Beshear said. “I hope you’re willing to do it for yourself and for your family now.”

Beshear said the mandate is supported by business groups including the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

“The business community is supportive of wearing masks as a way to keep the economy going and to keep our workforce and fellow Kentuckians safe,” said Ashli Watts, president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Beshear said the mandate will help Kentucky continue to reopen the economy, citing a study conducted by Goldman Sachs that found the economic difference between people wearing masks and not wearing masks is 5 percent of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product.

“If we apply that to Kentucky, the difference in our economy if Kentuckians routinely wear masks versus if they don’t is $10.4 billion,” Beshear said. “Everyone that wants our economy to stay open, that wants to see these jobs come back, that wants to see us not only reopen but stay open and thrive – ought to be wearing a mask every time they’re in public.”

Beshear said the mandate will be enforced by local health departments and others. During the press conference Beshear also announced that Kentucky’s local and regional health departments will be receiving $36.2 million in additional Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

“Kentucky’s health departments have been solidly on the front lines of our battle with COVID-19,” Beshear said. “We thank our health department leaders and staff, who have worked tirelessly to protect and improve the health and safety of our Kentucky families throughout this global health pandemic. We are pleased to announce this funding, which will help our health departments continue their critical work.”

Focusing on Calloway County, on July 9 the county’s 100th case of the coronavirus was confirmed. As of print time, out of the total confirmed cases, two patients were hospitalized while 19 were isolated at home. According to a release from the health department, 78 of the confirmed cases in the county have fully recovered.

As of Beshear’s press conference on July 9, Kentucky has had 612 coronavirus-related deaths, including one from Calloway County.

During the press conference, Steven Stack, a medical doctor and commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health said Kentuckians should wear masks to make sure Kentucky’s previous work against the coronavirus isn’t undone.

“You stayed healthy at home in March and April.,” Stack said. “And because you stayed healthy at home, for the first time in a long time Kentucky is not at the bottom of the pack for public health – we’re at the top. We have one of the best epidemic curves in the nation. People have made hard sacrifices… if you don’t keep up the simple things now we’re asking of you: to wear a mask and to socially distance… it will all be undone.”

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