FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – “While COVID-19 remains a threat, we are no longer in crisis,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during his final pandemic-related press briefing, Friday afternoon in the state Capitol Rotunda.
“Just over 15 months ago, on Feb. 7, 2020, I held my first news conference on COVID-19,” he stated. “It was just a month before we had our first case here in Kentucky. The concerns about this emerging global health pandemic were growing, and I was determined to let Kentuckians know that their state government was already mobilizing teams and resources to protect our people.”
Since then, Gov. Beshear has held 250 press briefings dealing primarily with the coronavirus, culminating in this announcement: “Today, we are lifting the final restrictions put in place that have kept our people safe during this once in a lifetime, global pandemic.
“Today, we are lifting all capacity limits. We are effectively ending mask mandates and ending ‘Healthy at Work’ requirements.”
He signed a new executive order rescinding all of his previous restrictions, except for keeping the mask mandate in place only for a few high-risk settings identified by the CDC. These include public transit, healthcare settings and long-term care facilities.
The governor did update some of the COVID-19 numbers that Kentuckians have seen over the past 15 months.
There were 237 new cases reported Friday, bringing Kentucky’s pandemic total to 461,954, since the very first case was reported in Harrison County on March 6, 2020. There were also nine more deaths, meaning 7,147 Kentuckians have now lost their lives due to the coronavirus. The state’s positivity rate has dropped to 2.05%, based on a seven-day rolling average of positive cases versus tests.
Beshear noted the pandemic was unlike any other disaster in recent history. “We’ve known for years one of those things that makes us special in Kentucky is how we respond to an emergency – how we run to one another during flooding or tornadoes, things that last days or weeks. Here we were called to do it more than 460 days, and we did.”
The governor said he was not yet ready to stop accepting the $300 per week pandemic unemployment assistance, which he said injects $34 million per week into the state economy. “It’s going to be based solely on how we can have a sustained recovery, and not any Democrat or Republican, red-state blue-state argument.”
He also gave no hint on when the public health emergency will end. “The federal government still has its public health emergency in place, as do 44 states. Only a handful have undone their orders.”
He also reminded people that Kentuckians 18 and older who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 can sign up for three chances to win $1 million dollars. Those 12 to 17 years old can sign up for 15 chances to win a full scholarship to any Kentucky public college, university, technical or trade school. Winners will be announced Friday, July 2; Friday, July 30; and Friday, Aug. 27. To enter the drawings and for more information, visit ShotAtAMillion.ky.gov.
To date, 349,780 Kentuckians have signed up for the $1 million drawings and 19,579 Kentuckians have signed up for the full-tuition scholarship drawings.
Beshear says he still plans to do weekly press conferences on issues of the day.