Governor praises adherence to mask rule so far, talks ‘clarity’ of enforcement

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Three days into a state mandate to wear masks in public with few exceptions, Gov. Andy Beshear praised Monday the public’s adherence to the order.

But he says the effort must continue or even grow for the state to avoid some of the closings that are happening in other states.

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And while he acknowledges law enforcement can’t enforce the rule itself, it does give officers a reason to “comment if they see people” not wearing masks. Furthermore, it gives restaurants and other retailers a tool to follow health guidelines that keep them in business and to then call law enforcement if people don’t want to follow the rules.

“And I think like the clarity of no shoes, no shirt, no mass, no service. It creates a clear, bright line that each of our businesses needs to be following, and it’s not that they have to force a mask on somebody it’s just don’t serve, don’t serve, you now have the black and white rule that’s out there that if you don’t provide the service everybody will wear that mask,” Beshear said during his briefing Monday afternoon.

The governor announced 277 new cases Monday, a number he acknowledged was low because of the weekend. “We expect it to be much higher Tuesday,” he said.

The new cases being the states total since early March to 19,653.

He also announced four deaths, including three in Fayette County. The state now has recorded 629 deaths.

Of the new cases, Beshear noted 11 were under the age of five with most of those in Fayette County, which continues to be hit hard by the virus. The youngest of those is a 4 month old.

The state has started charting cases in day care centers, with 20 cases reported among staff members in the last few days and nine among children.

“We’ve got to watch this and make sure the correct rules are in place…we need them open as families return to work,” Beshear said.

The state has confirmed 480,372 tests with some significant findings, the governor said.

That includes a 4.35 percent positive test rate, which remains above the state’s rate three weeks ago when it was below 3 percent.

The state’s hospital bed, ICU bed and ventilator capacity remains good, he added., and those numbers are among the key barometers the state watches when gauging hotspots and whether to curb some reopenings.

As for masks, the governor likened the debate to the same debate over mandatory seat belt laws when opponents argued it should be their right not to wear them and that not doing so only hurt them.

“It sounds kind of familiar,” he said, noting wearing masks is a major step toward protecting what analysts have said could be a $10 billion hit to the state’s economy.

“It’s us versus the COVID…it’s threatening our economy, our children, our lives,” he stated.

Beshear said the state is monitoring the mask-wearing impact, especially in some developing hotspots across the state.

“We will give masks a number of days, 10 days or so to see how it works,” Beshear said, noting he will support county judge executives who want to take tougher steps in advance.

“If after 10 days we need to look surgically at taking some action in some spots, we might,” he continued.

“But so far, the support for masks has been overwhelmingly positive, there’s been some rumbling but people are wearing them,” he said.

“The next two weeks are critical, the next 30 days,” he added, noting if the state continues to see cases being brought back from vacations may force the state to return to travel restrictions.

As for any rollback of reopenings, he said monitoring positive test rates, hospital bed and ICU bed capacity, statewide cases, and other factors are considered.

“There’s no perfect science, no rule book,” he concluded.