Governor Andy Beshear stopped short of mandating masks at a Monday afternoon news conference but released a list of steps he “strongly recommends” Kentuckians take to prevent the spread of the COVID delta variant.
The governor said cases including the variant are to blame for a recent rise in the state, but he admitted only 4.5% of new cases get tested for the variant. However, public health officials believe the delta variant is currently the dominant strain.
Beshear’s four steps include:
- All unvaccinated Kentuckians should wear masks indoors when not in their home;
- Kentuckians at higher risk due to preexisting conditions should wear masks indoors when not in their home;
- Vaccinated Kentuckians in jobs with significant public exposure should consider wearing a mask at work; and
- All unvaccinated Kentuckians, when eligible, should get vaccinated immediately.
“This is all it would take to protect America if folks would do it,” he said of those yet to get the vaccine.
The state reported 83% of Kentuckians 65 years and older are vaccinated against COVID. That figure is 72.9% for Kentuckians 50 and older.
But the governor expressed concern about those with ages between 12 and 49 because they have the least vaccinated people. He reported a third straight week of increasing cases and noted that unvaccinated people are most at risk of catching the delta variant and becoming hospitalized.
While doctors have diagnosed some vaccinated people with the variant, the governor insisted that vaccinated individuals are less likely to suffer from a severe case. While he admitted that hospitalizations and ICU admissions have not yet increased in Kentucky, Beshear said those statistics normally lag weeks behind increased cases.
“The delta variant is dangerous, and it is even a deadly threat to nonvaccinated Kentuckians,” he warned.