A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gov. Andy Beshear warns another statewide mask mandate could be on horizon as COVID cases mount

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear warned another statewide mask mandate could come as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase at an alarming rate, leading to hospitals in Kentucky being close to capacity or above.

During a press conference at the Capitol Thursday afternoon, the governor played videos with leaders from healthcare systems around the state, who warned that they were running out of staffed beds including ICUs, due to the spike in cases, which could affect all emergency care.

Gov. Andy Beshear is masked up for Thursday’s press conference. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

“A statewide mask mandate is something that we have to be actively considering,” he said. “Certainly, if we reach a point there are no beds in the Commonwealth, we are going to have to take some strong steps to make sure we can reduce the number of people that would be going to the hospital with COVID. Not just for them, but for everybody else that could be harmed. So, we’re watching the numbers very closely, and certainly right now healthcare capacity is at the top of my mind.”

He said the issue of not having hospital beds for non-COVID patients is personal with him.

“I have an aunt who, while in the hospital, had to have surgery because of a bad fall. We were that close to her not being able to get what she needs. It was already serious but could have been much, much worse.”

Beshear also took time to salute healthcare workers who have been on the front lines throughout the COVID pandemic.

“There was a time when we lifted up our healthcare heroes for what they are, heroes,” he stated. “Then, somehow politics started getting in on all this and we saw our healthcare heroes, who show up to give valid scientific testimony at school board meetings and elsewhere, yelled at, bullied, local health departments spray-painted. That’s wrong. Our healthcare heroes need us right now.”

He said for all they have done and continue to do, they have earned the title healthcare heroes. “That’s why I’m declaring next week, Aug. 22-28, ‘Healthcare Heroes Appreciation Week in Kentucky.’ I’m calling on everybody, from the media, to local restaurants, to businesses everywhere; let’s lift these amazing people up. Let’s try to give them new energy, let’s show our appreciation.”

The governor noted that Washington is helping the overworked healthcare heroes.

“This morning, we got word that the Kentucky National Guard received federal approval to continue supporting our pandemic response thanks to federal funding that will continue through the end of the calendar year. Next week, you’ll be hearing some additional steps the National Guard is going to be helping us with, so we can boost our healthcare capacity across the state.”

Beshear and State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack continued to urge everyone to get vaccinated, as the best way to move past the pandemic.

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