COVID cases fall for 5th consecutive week; Mask mandate dropped Tuesday for state employees

Published 12:11 am Tuesday, March 1, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – The number of new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky is now in its fifth straight week of sharp declines, prompting Gov. Andy Beshear to drop the mask mandate for state employees, effective Tuesday.

During his weekly COVID press conference on Monday, the governor said the use of masks will also be optional for visitors in executive branch buildings and offices, and in state vehicles that are occupied by two or more people.

“However,” Beshear told reporters, “we do have a number of congregate care facilities that will continue to require masks to protect those that we serve or our employees. Those are groups like the Department of Veterans Affairs nursing homes, correctional institutions, our psychiatric hospitals under the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and immediate care agencies providing food, beverage and housekeeping services.”

He had a message to state employees: “Thank you for holding on this long and thank you for your success. Thanks for your willingness to do this. We didn’t have one major omicron outbreak that required us to stop providing a service for any period of time, during the most contagious virus we’ve seen in my lifetime. We were able to serve the public every single day, based on so many of you state employees getting vaccinated, but also being willing to take that extra step to protect our workforce.”

The governor said anyone who feels comfortable still wearing a mask should be able to do so.

The Monday COVID incidence rate map, which had seen all 120 counties in the red just a couple weeks ago, now has half of Kentucky’s counties down to orange or yellow.

The state will, in the coming days, change from the four-color codes used the past two years, down to the CDC’s three, red, yellow and green, which stands for high, medium and low, respectively. The Kentucky Department for Public Health will also be transitioning from issuing daily COVID updates to once a week.

State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said his department’s guidance will also be reduced to five simple points:
–Get vaccinated.

–Keep up to date with vaccine boosters.

–Isolate when sick or test COVID-19 positive.

–Consider mask usage following exposures and for high-risk individuals.

–Follow applicable state and local guidance.

Find out more on the changes at kycovid19.ky.gov.