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'Ending mask mandates prematurely will really hurt our efforts' | Kentucky leaders and doctors weigh in on statewide mask mandate

As Indiana prepares to rollback on its mask mandate, Kentucky has no plans to end its statewide mask rule at least through the end of May.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As Indiana prepares to rollback on its mask mandate, Kentucky has no plans to end its statewide mask rule. Governor Andy Beshear said the mandate should be in place at least through May 31. 

Doctors at Univeristy of Louisville (UofL) Health are calling it the right move. 

"I do feel that by ending mask mandates what I consider prematurely will really hurt our efforts," infectious disease specialist at UofL Health, Dr. Mark Burns said. "Not only with the virus that we have here but with the variants in the mix too it makes it really tough."

Burns said admissions and ER visits from people over 65 years of age are down nationwide, but it worries him to see some states ending mask mandates. 

"You have to remember, masks themselves they block transmissions or respiratory particles which by the way is how this virus is primarily spread," Burns said. 

With new strains of COVID-19, health experts say being vaccinated is simply not enough. 

"The last thing we want is these variants to continue to replicate because as they replicate they mutate, as they mutate even though our vaccines are effective against these mutated strains overtime it's possible that they could become impervious to our vaccine and that's when there will be real trouble," Burns said. 

Mayor Greg Fischer's Office said in a statement it will continue to work with Beshear's decisions on restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19: "Gov. Beshear and his team have been very deliberate in their recommendations and guidelines to help us eliminate COVID-19, and we've seen results of that in the reduced numbers of cases and deaths here," spokesperson Jean Porter said. "For now, it's important to note that the CDC and public health experts across the country continue to urge masks be worn in public settings, at events and gatherings."

Tara Harris has been requiring customers at Rolling Hills Plaza Barbershop on Westport Rd in Louisville to wear a mask before it became a mandate in Kentucky.

"I mean I myself I hate it, I hate having to wear it all day for 8 or 9 hours you know when I'm off and then I have to come back it's hard in the morning," Harris said.  

But despite that her no mask no service rule will remain even if the mandate is eventually lifted. 

"We have not had one trace back phone call that someone felt like they got COVID here," Harris said. "We still want [customers] to come in and feel comfortable getting a haircut and safe so if that's what it's going to take for everybody to still wear mask...I'm willing to do it as long as it takes to try to get our business back where it was a year ago."

Contact reporter Senait Gebregiorgis at SGebregior@whas11.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook. 

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