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'I didn't want to have to go back to this': Beshear requires state employees, visitors to wear masks inside state buildings

The decision comes after the CDC recommended even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in most counties.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday all state employees and visitors — regardless of vaccination status — must wear a mask while inside state buildings.

"I didn't want to have to go back to this, nobody wants to have to go back to this, but at the same time we pledged to protect one another, to be there for the people of our commonwealth," Beshear said.

The decision comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said even vaccinated individuals should return to wearing masks indoors in counties with substantial or high amounts of community transmission of COVID-19.

Officials cited new information about the delta variant's ability to spread among vaccinated people. While the guidance applies in parts of the country with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people, data shows 80% of Kentucky counties fall under that category.

From July 19 to July 25, 29 counties in Kentucky are in the orange level and 67 are in the red level of transmission. Only five counties in the commonwealth rank in the low level of community transmission. 

"We don't get to choose when the end of a war occurs, and we've got to stay tough enough to do what it takes to protect one another," Beshear said.

Beshear said he wanted to provide an example for employers who may be deciding whether to enforce masks, saying he "truly believes" it is a temporary decision to protect people and essential services provided by the state.

RELATED: 80% of Kentucky counties affected by new CDC mask guidance

RELATED: CDC reverses course on indoor masks in parts of US where COVID is surging

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