Kentucky state officials refuse to enforce virus mask rule

Kentucky state officials refuse to enforce virus mask rule


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear defended his mask requirement for state workers Thursday, brushing off criticism by state GOP officials who announced that they would not enforce the mandate in their offices.

“Listen, I care more about my people than my popularity. I got the backbone to do what's right for them and I wish other people did too," a clearly irritated Democratic governor told reporters. “At some point you got to do the right thing for your people and not try to score political points.”

Beshear said he isn't able to take disciplinary action against workers in the Department of Agriculture, the office of the state treasurer, the Legislative Research Commission or the state auditor's office who don't wear masks, but he warned that they “face a much higher likelihood that they get COVID and they get really sick” if they don't.

Beshear issued the order for state workers and visitors to any state building Wednesday, prompted by a statewide surge in COVID-19 cases accelerated by the highly contagious delta variant. The state’s test positivity rate — which had dipped below 2% on July 1 — was 8.29% on Wednesday.

In response to Beshear, three of the four agencies said Thursday they will not enforce the governor's new mask requirement. Those three are run by Republicans chosen in statewide elections. The fourth agency, the LRC , which is co-chaired by the Senate President and House Speaker in the General Assembly, where the GOP holds substantial majorities in both chambers, also said it would not enforce the rule, media outlets report.

All four agencies have offices in Franklin County, which is an area with “substantial” spread of the virus, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The county has a daily incidence...

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