A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Newest COVID report says cases increasing — Boone, Kenton in red zone — and masks are advised

Kentucky’s latest weekly COVID Community Level map, released Friday and based on information received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows no counties are in the green, meaning a low level.

Forty, or one third of Kentucky’s 120 counties, are now yellow, meaning a medium level, while the remaining 80 counties, or two-thirds, are red, which indicates a high level of COVID.

Boone and Kenton counties are both in the red (highest) zone. Campbell is in the yellow (medium) zone.

CDC guidance for yellow counties includes residents should consider using masks when at indoor congregate settings, including schools, while those in red counties are urged to use masks at all indoor public settings, including K-12 schools.

Some districts, including the Jefferson County Schools, the state’s largest district, have already decided to make mask use mandatory when classes resume on August 10.

“COVID is certainly on the rise,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Hospitalizations are on the rise. We are still losing people and we are losing some young people. We need to get more people boosted and vaccinated.”

Although Franklin County is yellow, he noted that people are now wearing masks during meetings in the Emergency Operations Center at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort to deal with the eastern Kentucky flooding.

“Because we can’t lose everybody who is in there, with the way that COVID is spreading. Public Health has a seat in the EOC and that’s who brought in the masks.”

When asked about requiring masks in schools, Beshear admitted that he knows nobody likes to wear one but promotes it because it helps keep people safe.

Wear masks inside — COVID cases increasing

“Because nobody likes wearing them is why it’s so important that we do wear one when the situations are right,” he said. “We have to give our school districts the flexibility to keep kids in school. And if you are in a red zone, it is very likely that COVID could spread so quickly through your school that you would not be able to by in-person on certain days. Our goal always has to be as many days in person as possible and giving school districts the flexibility to require masks when they believe.”

Beshear said he is wearing a mask at more indoor activities but reminds people it’s not going to last forever.

“It’s not like when we asked people to mask up earlier. This variant that is going through our population is burning fast. I believe in the future we’re going to see we have to wear a mask for a week or two, and then we likely won’t have to wear it for months at a time.”

He supports those districts that believe they should mask up when necessary.

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