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'While COVID-19 remains a threat, we are no longer in crisis' | Gov. Beshear holds final COVID-19 briefing

Gov. Beshear signed a new executive order officially rescinding Kentucky's mask mandate in most settings and capacity restrictions.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear held his final regular scheduled COVID-19 briefing as the state ended its mask mandate and capacity restrictions.

Beshear marked the ending by signing a new executive order that keeps the mask requirement in place only in certain high-risk settings like public transit, long-term care and health facilities. 

“Today, we are lifting the final restrictions put in place to keep our people safe during this once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic,” the governor said. “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.”

During the briefing, Beshear said he was able to make these changes as more Kentuckians continue to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. At this time, more than 2.1 million Kentuckians have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health Dr. Steven Stack said the state's weekly number of COVID-19 cases has declined 93% and the state’s number of deaths occurring each week has declined 95% since Janruary 2021.

“We would not be here today were it not for the collective effort of so many Kentuckians,” Dr. Stack said. “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 as well as with local health departments across the state. Thank you, Team Kentucky, and here’s to a better summer ahead.”

One week before we learned about the first coronavirus case in Kentucky, Beshear delivered his first news conference. He was just months into office when the first case was announced and handling the pandemic was not on the calendar.

"I'll never forget sitting in that office and seeing what wasn't the pessimistic but the moderate early views on what we would lose and it was 80,000 in Kentucky," Beshear said. "I had to look at that and know that I was going to be the governor and the captain of the ship...we've done a lot better than that obviously those models weren't as accurate."

As of today 7,100 Kentuckians have died from the virus, according to the Governor. 250 COVID-19 news conferences were held over 15 months announcing cases, deaths, and coronavirus restrictions. While some showed support for the restrictions others opposed them fiercely filing lawsuits and leading protests.

Through it all Beshear says lessons were learned, but his focus was always on saving lives.

"Let us never lose sight of what it cost to be here I think throughout all these COVID briefings you heard me say we'll get through this and we'll get through this together," he said.

Beshear noted that the commonwealth's state of emergency has not ended because of programs and grants still in place. This includes $96 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for vaccine distribution and administration. 

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

Watch the briefing in full below:

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