On Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear introduced an executive order in response to the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant. The order, which utilizes recent CDC guidance, will mandate the following stipulations:
- All individuals – teachers, staff, students and visitors – must cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when indoors in all public and private preschool, Head Start, elementary, middle and high schools (preschool through grade 12) in Kentucky, including but not limited to inside of vehicles used for transportation such as school buses, regardless of vaccination status; and
- All staff, visitors and children ages 2 and older who are able to wear a face covering must cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when indoors in all child care settings in Kentucky, regardless of vaccination status.
The order includes a list of exemptions.
The CDC now recommends universal indoor wearing of face coverings for all teachers, staff, students (ages 2 and older) and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC also recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a face covering in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.
The surge of hospitalizations of children with COVID-19 is causing children’s hospitals to become overwhelmed, with recent CDC data showing an average of 225 children with COVID-19 admitted to U.S. hospitals every day over the past week. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that more than 93,000 children and teenagers were infected with COVID-19 from July 29 to Aug. 5.
Currently, around 2.37 million Kentuckians have received at least their first vaccination, however vaccinations still remain unavailable for approximately 661,500 Kentucky children ages 11 and under, and less than 34% of all eligible Kentucky children between ages 12 and 17 have received their first dose of a vaccine.
While health care, public health, school and business leaders across Kentucky echoed support for the Governor’s order, not everyone is in agreement. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has filed with the Kentucky Supreme Court in response to Gov. Beshear’s executive order. In a tweet, Cameron made the following statement: “As Kentucky’s chief law officer, our office must ensure that the rule of law is upheld during this pandemic. This means protecting the law-making prerogative of the General Assembly and respecting the judicial power of our courts.”