KENTUCKY (WFIE) - During his coronavirus update, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that residents across the state will be required to wear face masks while at public spaces in order to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Beshear signed an executive order that implements a mask mandate throughout the commonwealth. He says the order will go into effect on Friday at 5 p.m.
This announcement comes as Kentucky COVID-19 cases are on the rise. The Governor says there are 333 newly confirmed cases across the state, plus four more people have died.
Kentucky is currently reporting 18,245 total coronavirus cases. Out of the statewide residents who have tested positive, 4,939 people have fully recovered from the virus.
As of Thursday, 612 state residents have died from complications with COVID-19.
Beshear says this decision is driven by scientific data.
Businesses like Wal-Mart in Morganfield are preparing customers for the changes coming. This announcement follows state orders which will require face coverings for all shoppers and store associates.
“It’s no longer voluntary; it’s mandatory,” Gov. Beshear said. “And I’m willing to take whatever criticism comes with that.”
The Governor pointed out more than three million people in the U.S. have been infected with the virus and how hotspots like Arizona, Texas, and Florida have seen sharp spikes.
14 News talked to a western Kentucky native who is back in the commonwealth from a Florida beach trip.
“We were made aware about a week prior to the flight that Allegiant had changed their guidelines, that masks were required,” Katie Raney explained. “At restaurants they do have the mandated mask rule, so you were required to wear a mask inside. There was ample social distancing at the beach and at restaurants.”
Gov. Beshear says requiring a face mask is a step the state needs, so that leaders don’t have to take more drastic measures.
So far, 22 states have implemented some sort of mask mandate.
More than 460,000 Kentuckians, including Raney, have now been tested.
“I am a photographer as well and had sessions scheduled beginning next week, so for my peace of mind and my clients’ peace of mind, I wanted to go ahead and get COVID tested,” Raney added.
The new executive order, effective in the evening of Friday, July 10, will be enforced for 30 days. The Governor is expected to re-evaluate at that point, which could include an extension.
“Is it too much to ask? I don’t think so,” the Governor questioned.
“Personally, I will continue to wear one and do so as long as it takes,” Raney declared.
Beshear says this order will be enforced by the health departments and others state agencies.
He is expected to host another briefing Friday afternoon.
You can watch Gov. Beshear’s full Thursday press conference in the video below:
The Green River District Health Department is reporting 36 additional COVID-19 cases.
Of those new cases, 14 are in Daviess County, two are in Hancock County, 12 are in Henderson County, four are in Ohio County and four are in Webster County.
Green River health officials say they’ve had a total of 1,018 confirmed cases with 867 recoveries.
The Hopkins County Health Department is reporting seven new cases. They’ve now had a total of 285 confirmed positive cases. They also had 197 recoveries.
Hopkins County has had 34 COVID-19 related deaths.
Thursday is the last day you can get tested at Madisonville-North Hopkins High School.
It’s open from 7:30 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon.
Officials say you can register online to make the process faster, but it’s not required.
You can register for testing here.
Here are the current numbers in our area of Kentucky:
- Muhlenberg Co. - 549 cases, 8 deaths
- Daviess Co. - 471 cases, 7 deaths, 407 recovered
- Hopkins Co. - 285 cases, 34 deaths, 197 recovered
- Ohio Co. - 224 cases, 191 recovered
- Henderson Co. - 194 cases, 4 deaths, 161 recovered
- Webster Co. - 52 cases, 40 recovered
- McLean Co. - 28 cases, 1 death, 25 recovered
- Union Co. - 27 cases, 26 recovered
- Hancock Co. - 22 cases, 17 recovered
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is promising new health requirements after the state recorded a second-straight day of increased COVID-19 cases.
Kentucky reported 402 new cases Wednesday.
Those new requirements are expected during his weekly news briefing.
We’ll have more on this later today.