With the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention issuing new guidelines Thursday afternoon for people who are fully vaccinated, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state would amend its COVID-19 restrictions to align with the new guidance.
That means people who are two weeks or more out from their second shot of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine can forego masks in most settings, including many indoor venues.
“Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” the CDC said in its online update Thursday.
In a video statement posted on Twitter, Beshear said the move means the state and country are very close to returning to normal.
He also used the CDC’s move as a call for more Kentuckians to register or go to a clinic to get their shots.
“When you get vaccinated, the CDC says it is safe to take that mask off,” the governor said.
Among the areas where federal authorities said vaccinated people still need to wear a mask include hospitals, long-term care facilities and prisons.
While Beshear didn’t commit to ending the mask mandate completely in his statement, House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, said it was “well past the time” to end the mask and social distancing mandates.
“The CDC speaks clearly to the need to rely on local, more targeted approaches and guidance, as well as the fact that individuals are prepared to make the decisions necessary to protect themselves,” the speaker said. “What further evidence does this administration need to open our state?”
The Republican-led legislature passed several laws, overriding Beshear vetoes on measures that restricted the Democratic governor’s authority to extend COVID-19 measures. Beshear has since filed suit to stop those laws, and the state Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case.
Osborne noted that the Kentucky Derby, which included a crowd of more than 51,000 in a mainly outdoor setting, did not lead to a massive increase in coronavirus cases, even though thousands in attendance chose not to follow Churchill Downs’ policy and wear a mask.
“Neighboring states have ended their mask mandates and done away with restrictions, yet the administration chose to ignore their progress,” he added.
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