Governor to governor: Beshear will ask Holcomb not to lift Indiana’s mask mandate

As of now, Indiana’s mask mandate will expire in early April. Gov. Beshear says that’s concerning for Kentucky.
Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed the state was seeing a 3.87% positivity rate on March 16, 2021.
Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed the state was seeing a 3.87% positivity rate on March 16, 2021.(Office of Gov. Andy Beshear)
Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 5:59 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday said he will personally ask Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to reconsider dropping the state’s mask mandate.

Holcomb announced last week his state’s mask mandate will become a mask advisory on April 6. Each Indiana business will have discretion to require masks in their premises.

Beshear has said he will re-up Kentucky’s mask mandate for another 30 days until the end of April.

He argued on Monday that Kentucky’s relative success during the pandemic — as measured by low hospitalizations, high vaccinations and continued declining case counts — could be undermined if adjacent states lift health orders too early.

“Kentuckians are going to be more at risk if Tennesseans aren’t under a mask mandate, as they haven’t been for a while,” he said. “Indiana ending theirs is also concerning.”

The commonwealth and the country are in a race against the variants, according to Beshear. Lifting mask mandates before herd immunity is achieved through vaccinations would be like fumbling on the one yard line, he said.

Kentucky is the best performing state of its seven border states in terms of the percentage of its population to have received at least one vaccine dose, according to Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack.

Forty percent of Kentucky adults have gotten a dose to date. On Monday Beshear cited estimates of 70 percent vaccine uptake in order to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.

“Lets not quit early,” the governor said last week. “It is so close, and let’s not stop protecting each other(...) Otherwise, we are not providing the same protections to those who are waiting to get the vaccine as we did to those who have gotten it.”

>> Monday: 41 COVID variant cases reported in Kentucky

Beshear said Holcomb has been “flexible” on COVID-19 issues in the past. “I’ll certainly ask him personally if he’ll reconsider.”

Meanwhile, case counts are increasing across the country thanks to spikes in states such as Michigan, Florida and New Jersey where, according to the CDC, new variants are also increasingly prevalent.

President Joe Biden joined CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky Monday in appealing for mask requirements and other health orders to be maintained or restored to stave off a “fourth surge” of the virus.

There is no firm date for dropping the mask mandate in Ohio. Rather, Gov. Mike DeWine set an empirical threshold measured in Ohio’s case incident rate.

As of last week, Ohio’s incident rate appears to be going in the wrong direction.

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