Beshear: No need for mask return as of now; ‘all stars’ touted

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear noted Thursday research suggests the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may offer immunity from COVID-19 for multiple years.

He also said that this week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reaffirmed that vaccinated people in the U.S. do not need to wear face coverings in most situations.

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When asked about the possibility of returning a mask mandate to safeguard against variants which are beginning to be a problem in some areas, such as California which has restored its mask mandate, Beshear said with the state’s positivity rate remaining below 2%, he doesn’t see a need to bring back the mask mandate in the state, especially as the number of people vaccinated continues to slowly climb.

During Thursday’s briefing, Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, joined Beshear to provide an update on the state’s vaccination efforts. To date, 2.19 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are scientific miracles,” Friedlander said. “If we get vaccinated, we drive down case rates and we drive down hospitalization rates. This is the most effective thing you can do. Get vaccinated.”

Friedlander also updated Kentuckians on the Shot at a Million sweepstakes, the state’s incentive program to encourage Kentuckians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

He said the first drawing will occur Thursday, and the first winners will be announced Friday.

Kentuckians can still get vaccinated and enter for the final two drawings scheduled for July 29 and Aug. 26 with opportunities each time to win $1 million or for youth to win one of five full scholarships to fund higher education.

Learn more and sign up at shotatamillion.ky.gov.

Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear on Thursday unveiled the Team Kentucky Gallery. The Beshears noted that the Capitol, “the people’s house,” is the best place to showcase the artistic talents of Kentuckians and to provide a voice for them as represented through art.

The selected artworks will remain on display for a six-month rotation in the Capitol and, eventually, on a Team Kentucky Digital Art Gallery with each artist’s contact information. After the rotation, artworks will be returned to the artists. The first rotation runs from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2021.

Finally, the Governor thanked Team Kentucky All-Stars who are making a difference in their communities and representing the commonwealth on an international stage.

He thanked high school students Jacqueline Teague and Amelie Beck, of Louisville, who are co-founders of VaxConnectKY.

Through VaxConnectKY, they’ve assisted nearly 1,000 senior citizens in Kentucky with signing up for COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

In addition, they helped plan a vaccine clinic for their school and are using their platform to encourage other students their age to sign up for a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. VaxConnectKY was recently recognized by Scientific American and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, when Teague won the Diana Award named after Princess Diana.

“You’re showing us that the next generation of Kentuckians isn’t waiting for their turn to lead, they’re leading right now,” said Gov. Beshear.

The Governor also congratulated nearly 30 Kentuckians or Kentucky alumniwho will competein this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in fencing, field hockey, rifle events, softball, swimming, track and field, basketball, golf and Paralympic hand cycling.

Lt. Gov. Coleman said those athletes include Kentucky women making history.

For example, former University of Kentucky (UK) track-star Sydney McLaughlin had a world-record performance when she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first woman in history to run the 400-meter hurdles in under 52 seconds.

Keni Harrison, also a former UK star, dominated the women’s 100-meter hurdles race as she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. These two Team Kentucky women have both run the fastest races ever in their hurdle disciplines.