Kentucky’s public colleges mandate masks in effort to slow coronavirus spread

Published 10:36 pm Friday, August 6, 2021

Masks will be required when indoors at all of Kentucky’s public colleges and universities, campus presidents said Friday, citing a COVID-19 spike fueled by the delta variant.

The requirement for the upcoming semester will apply regardless of vaccination status, they said.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education released the statement signed by campus presidents as virus cases statewide have been the highest in months and the rate of Kentuckians testing positive for COVID-19 has surpassed 10% because of the highly contagious delta variant.

Just weeks ago, the campuses “seemed poised to return to a sense of normalcy we all desired,” the statement said.

“And while we remain eager to begin the semester, we are again dealing with the challenges of the highly transmissible COVID-19 delta variant and the need to take precautions we hoped would be no longer needed.”

The campus leaders urged unvaccinated students, faculty and staff to consider getting the vaccine immediately.

“This is the most effective way to keep you, your loved ones, your colleagues, your fellow students and those around you safe from this disease,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andy Beshear reported 2,612 new COVID-19 cases and six more virus-related deaths in Kentucky on Friday. The state’s positivity rate increased to 10.46%, he said.

“These numbers are concerning,” the governor said in a tweet. “Please, protect yourself and others — get vaccinated if eligible.”

More than 970 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including 286 in intensive care units, the state reported.