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Mask Up: Kentuckians Will Have To Wear Masks In Public Starting May 11

Coronavirus Update For Monday, April 27

A boy, left, pinning the mask material to a pattern is helped by Sarah Wheelwright, school age coordinator, at the Youth Center April 8, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Children at the center have taken on the task of creating masks for themselves and for care givers at Hill AFB’s Youth and Child Development Centers. (Image: Todd Cromar,U.S. Air Force, via Wikimedia.)

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

Kentuckians will have to wear masks in public starting Monday, May 11.

That’s according to Gov. Andy Beshear, who began laying out his administration’s plans to reopen Kentucky. At Monday night’s briefing, he concentrated on how healthcare facilities will reopen. But Beshear gave the public two weeks notice that they will need to wear a cloth mask in public, either at work or at the store.

People not wearing masks in public will not be cited, he said, but they will be asked to put on a mask. For reopening businesses, masks will be mandatory for customers and employees. Non-compliant businesses can be temporarily shutdown. Businesses can refuse service to customers who don’t wear masks.

“This is just a small sacrifice we can take to keep each other safe,” he said.

Until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found, this a part of the new normal, Beshear said.

Another part of the new normal will be contact tracing, the governor said. If someone tests positive, they and their closest contacts will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. Beshear said the state is hiring over 700 people for contact testing and is putting out bids for private contractors to help local health departments with contact tracing.

The governor said he hopes to begin easing restrictions in May, but did not go into detail. He did say that he didn’t see bars or clubs reopening until at least June. He also said reopening businesses would have to be able to provide masks and temperature checks.

“You still have to be able to live up to guidance,” Beshear said.

While some social distancing restrictions will ease, others will remain in place. Individuals older than 65 or who have underlying medical conditions will still be encouraged to continue sheltering in place. Everyone else will not be able to gather in groups of more than 10 people.

Companies should continue to encourage people to work from home. If people return to work, they’re supposed to come back in phases. All common areas will be closed and special accommodations should be made for vulnerable employees.

The governor said he would discuss reopening the economy in more detail on Wednesday.

“Other states can rush this, we’re going to do it smart,” Beshear said.

He said his administration is focusing on reopening healthcare facilities first not only because of their importance but because providers already have personal protective equipment (PPE). Phase I began Monday. Phase II begins Wednesday, May 6. Outpatient/ambulatory surgery and invasive procedures may resume. Phase III begins Wednesday, May 13. Non-emergent/non-urgent inpatient surgery and procedures may resume at 50-percent of pre-shutdown volume. Phase IV starts Wednesday, May 27. If there has been no surge, non-emergent/non-urgent inpatient surgery and procedures can resume.

All four phases are based on several conditions: facilities must maintain a 14-day supply of all necessary PPE, patients must undergo COVID-19 testing before any procedures and acute care hospitals must maintain 30-percent bed capacity in ICU and total beds for COVID-19 patients.

Gov. Beshear announced 87 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. “We can’t read too much into that because of the reporting,” Beshear said. Minus duplicates, the commonwealth’s total is 4,146. So far, 48,799 have been tested. He also announced five new deaths, bringing the state’s total to 213.

Across the world, there are now 3-million new cases, according to the Worldometer website, with 211,202 deaths and 919,746 people having recovered recovered. In the U.S., there are over 1-million cases, including 20,883 new cases over the past day, and 56,649 deaths, including 1,236 new deaths over the past day. There are 813,655 active cases and 137,739 people have recovered. In the U.S., 5.6 million tests have been performed.

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