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“While COVID-19 remains a threat, we are no longer in crisis”: Gov. Beshear signs executive order ending COVID-19 restrictions in Kentucky

Governor thanks Kentuckians for saving lives as mask mandate, capacity restrictions are lifted
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 12:32 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - After more than 15 months of first daily, then weekly COVID-19 news conferences, Governor Andy Beshear held what is expected to be his final regularly scheduled COVID-19 news conference Friday afternoon at the State Capitol in Frankfort.

The news conference coincides with the end of Kentucky’s statewide mask mandate and the return to 100% capacity for most venues.

The mask mandate for vaccinated Kentuckians has been lifted since May 13. A new executive order keeps the mask requirement in place only in certain high-risk settings identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: public transit, long-term care facilities, and health care facilities.

“Today, we are lifting the final restrictions put in place to keep our people safe during this once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic,” said Gov. Beshear. “COVID-19 remains deadly. Our war against it is not yet won. But after more than 15 months of struggle and sacrifice, we can also say this: While COVID-19 remains a threat, we are no longer in crisis.”

Near the beginning, Gov. Beshear signed the executive order ending COVID-19 restrictions and mandates.

Masks are recommended for people in correctional facilities or homeless shelters and people who are immune-compromised, are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days.

The Governor said he was able to make these changes safely because more Kentuckians continue to receive one of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. Everyone ages 12 and older is eligible for their shot of hope. As of today, 2,106,464 people in the commonwealth have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Steven Stack, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said the proof of vaccines’ effectiveness is in the data: The state’s weekly number of COVID-19 cases has declined 93% since January 2021; the state’s number of deaths occurring each week has declined 95% since January 2021, and the state’s number of patients who are hospitalized for COVID-19 has declined 83% since January.

“We would not be here today were it not for the collective effort of so many Kentuckians,” said Dr. Stack. “While I wish it weren’t for this reason, it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to come into Kentuckians’ lives and to serve with the team at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), as well as with local health departments across the state. Thank you, Team Kentucky, and here’s to a better summer ahead.”

Chance to win $1 million dollars OR full scholarship to Kentucky college, university, technical college, or trade school:

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.

The Governor thanked close partners in the state’s fight against COVID-19 over the past 15 months, including American Sign Language interpreter, Virginia Moore; Dr. Stack; and CHFS Secretary Eric Friedlander.

COVID-19 memorial planned to be placed at the capitol:

The Governor recognized that for the families of 7,147 Kentuckians lost to the virus, the pain and sadness of the COVID-19 pandemic will never go away. But he said the Kentuckians whose lives were cut short will never be forgotten.

“Reading the ages and counties of the dead, almost daily, is the hardest thing I have ever done,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are in the process of developing a permanent monument that will replace that sea of flags on the Capitol lawn representing every Kentuckian lost to COVID-19, which I hope will inspire generations of future leaders to think about these Kentuckians, these families, and the challenges of these times.”

What about the state of emergency programs and grants?

The Governor said he would not yet end the commonwealth’s state of emergency because major programs, grants, and executive orders that continue to help Kentuckians impacted by COVID-19 would be at risk if it weren’t still in place, including a $96 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for vaccine distribution and administration.

The Governor said Team Kentucky has gotten through the hardships and grief of the past 15 months together, and now can begin the work of building a better Kentucky for all.

“We know that our actions saved thousands, likely tens of thousands of lives. I’ve never felt more pride in our commonwealth and our people than knowing how we did this for one another,” the Governor said.

The news conference was shared on our second channel, Heroes & Icons, on our website or you can watch it right here in this web story:

In Friday’s update, Gov. Beshear announced more than 2.1 million Kentuckians have received at least one shot of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

By the numbers, the governor announced 237 new cases of the virus and nine new deaths, including a 71-year-old man from Harlan County and a 66-year-old man from McCreary County. The positivity rate is 2.05%.

Here are some of the highlights mentioned in the news conference:

- Since February 2020, officials have held 250 news conferences with pandemic updates.

- Gov. Beshear also mentioned Kentucky being the first in the country to put teachers and educators near the front of the line to be vaccinated.

- Officials are in the process of creating a permanent memorial to honor Kentuckians who have died from COVID complications.

- Dr. Steven Stack, the Commissioner for Public Health said the more than two million Kentuckians who are vaccinated got their shots in less than six months.

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