During a news conference reporting continued increases in COVID-19 cases, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced new precautions to prevent the virus at state-run medical facilities. He said those precautions will not include a vaccine mandate for state employees.
Beshear said new case totals have increased 38 straight days with the positive test rate nearing 10%.
Minutes before the start of Monday’s news conference, Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards instituted a new statewide mask mandate for citizens above 5 years of age.
Beshear did not follow suit, but urged mask usage at schools and businesses. While he did not rule out a future mandate, currently he is not considering the move.
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Secretary Eric Friedlander announced new precautions at state medical facilities.
He said state-run facilities including intermediate care, psychological hospitals, and veterans’ homes will take additional steps. Universal masking is required at the facilities. Anyone unvaccinated and working with the public, in state operated long-term facilities will be required to test twice weekly. Vaccinated individuals will only be tested in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Currently 2,319,625 Kentuckians have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
When asked whether he considered President Joe Biden’s recommendation that states offer $100 incentives for citizens to get vaccinated, Beshear said that he has ruled nothing out. But he pointed to other incentives that have increased the vaccination effort including the ‘Shot at a Million’ sweepstakes.
The state will hold one more drawing on August 26. One vaccinated Kentuckian will win $1 million while 5 vaccinated children will win full-ride scholarships.
Also Monday, the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission (LRC) released its latest guidelines regarding masks at legislative meetings. The LRC email arrived as interim joint committee meetings are set to resume on Tuesday, August 3.
Fully vaccinated guests are not required to wear a mask in committee rooms or other areas controlled by the LRC while unvaccinated guests, “should wear a mask at all times”.
The announcement came five days after Governor Andy Beshear required people wear masks in executive branch buildings or offices.
Visitors were unable to enter the Capitol or Capitol Annex for more than a year during the pandemic. Beshear lifted restrictions early last month.
While visitors are allowed inside of the Annex for legislative meetings, they are only allowed in the Capitol Annex basement or first floor without a scheduled appointment. Those looking to access the second, third, and fourth floors of the Annex where lawmakers’ officers are located must make an appointment. Individual legislators may require guests to wear a mask in their personal office.