FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – On the day that state officials announced a full school mask mandate for everyone when classes resume in the next few weeks, another large number of new COVID-19 cases were reported.
On Thursday, state public health officials reported 1,618 new cases. There have now been 481,001 in Kentucky since the first case of the coronavirus was reported in Harrison County on March 6, 2020.
Five counties reported 50 or more new cases on July 29: Jefferson had 206, Fayette 93, Warren 83, Laurel 59, and Clay 53.
There were also two more deaths blamed on COVID-19, bringing the pandemic total to 7,327.
Kentucky’s positivity rate, which was less than 2% at the beginning of July, jumped to 8.55% on Thursday, based on a seven-day average of the number of tests versus positive results. That was up another quarter of a percent from Wednesday.
On June 29, no Kentucky county was in the red zone, meaning a COVID-19 incidence rate of more than 25 cases per 100,000 population. But on July 29, there were 40 red counties, a full one-third of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
“With the delta variant spreading across the U.S. and only 62% of Kentuckians ages 18 or older vaccinated, right now our answer is: Masks plus vaccines equals victory over COVID,” said Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday. “We are strong enough and resilient enough to do this. We are compassionate enough to know we have to do this.”
Thursday also marked the first day of a mask requirement at all state office buildings for both employees and visitors, regardless of a person’s vaccination status.
“I’m fully vaccinated, but I’m still my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. I still believe in loving my neighbor as I would myself, so I’m going to mask up,” said Gov. Beshear. “I promised when I became governor that I would lead by example.”
In a message encouraging all Kentuckians 12 years of age and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19, State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack noted, from March 1 to July 28, 2021, 94.5% of COVID-19 cases, 91.8% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 88.8% of COVID-19 deaths were among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Kentuckians.