FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – As the number of COVID-19 cases in Kentucky continue to grow at an increasing rate, the state has taken the step of reinstituting a mask mandate for all executive branch employees and visitors to state office buildings.
The policy was announced Wednesday by State Personnel Cabinet Secretary Gerina D. Whethers, and it takes effect on Thursday.
She said: “Employees, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a face covering when present in Executive Branch buildings/offices and in state vehicles, where another employee is present. This policy will be continually monitored, re-evaluated, and revised, if necessary.”
Other provisions of the policy memo include:
--All personnel should wear a face covering when walking through common areas such as hallways.
--Employees who can safely practice social distancing in their office or work location may remove their face covering.
--All employees and visitors must wear a face covering when attending face-to-face meetings or trainings.
--Face coverings will be required to be worn during an employee’s scheduled work hours while performing job duties on or off the work premises. In the event that the face covering becomes visibly soiled, saturated, or damaged while working, a new face covering must be obtained. They also encourage washing them each day after use.
--Employees may submit accommodation requests to the agency Human Resources office for consideration if the employee is unable to wear a face covering because of an underlying medical condition.
The memo says employees who do not comply with this policy may be removed from Executive Branch buildings/offices and may be subject to corrective or disciplinary action.
The requirement for visitors to be masked upon entering a state office building also says if a visitor chooses not to wear a face covering, they will not be permitted to enter the building/office.
If a visitor does not have a face covering upon arrival, an agency may provide a face covering to the individual.
During a Monday press conference, Gov. Andy Beshear said, “The Delta variant is real, it is significant, to those unvaccinated it is deadly, and in Kentucky it is escalating, and escalating very quickly.”
He noted recent case numbers in Kentucky are the highest since March, jumping from 1,844 three weeks ago to 5,662 last week.
Another 1,593 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to state public health officials on Wednesday, making it 479,431 since the first one was reported on March 6, 2020.
The state’s positivity rate, which stood at 1.87% on June 28, has now risen to 8.29% as of July 28.
There were also two new deaths, bringing the pandemic total to 7,325.