‘Flat and simple’: Governor Beshear recommends masks for everyone in Kentucky schools

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 4:30 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:58 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - In roughly two weeks, Kentucky children will return to the classrooms. When they do, a mask will likely be included on their back-to-school supply lists.

On Thursday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear recommended school districts across the state require universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Beshear also recommended schools implement layered prevention strategies in place.

“We have changed in the blink of an eye, from a quiet, calm state to a horribly inflamed state,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said. “Our recommendation mirrors the CDC, which is flat and simple. Everyone in the K-12 setting in indoors spaces should wear a mask. Period.”

The recommendations come amid the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Data shown by Stack and Beshear shows Kentucky has gone from zero to 36 “red” counties in 30 days time, meaning COVID-19 is spreading faster than it has in months.

“Think about a classroom of 20 kids under 12 [years old] where none of them are vaccinated,” Beshear said. “A little basic science, a little basic math says you’re going to have a whole lot of quarantines.”

Beshear also said the math shows those who are unvaccinated against the virus are experiencing the worst effects of the Delta variant.

According to numbers from the state, since March 1, 95 percent of new COVID-19 cases, 92 percent of hospitalizations and 89 percent of COVID-19-related deaths have been unvaccinated individuals.

That said, Stack told reporters the viral loads from the Delta variant have shown to be greater than those from the original virus, meaning those who are vaccinated may end up contracting the disease as well.

“We’ve said all the way back to the beginning, that vaccines could prevent severe disease, but they may not be able to completely prevent transmission of the disease,” Stack said. “And the Delta variant got good enough to overcome that transmission protection a bit.”

Beshear also announced Thursday all state employees, while indoors, around other people at work, must wear a mask.

However, he is not considering reinstating a statewide mask mandate.

“I’m not currently considering the mask mandate,” Beshear said. “We will watch what’s happening and again it’s on the table if it’s needed.”

So far, Beshear said nearly 2.3 million Kentuckians have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

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