During his Monday press conference, Gov. Andy Beshear announced the closure of bars and reducing restaurant capacity from 50% to 25%, per federal guidelines.

The announcement came has no shock given that Beshear had spent the week prior setting the state up for the news. Bars will remain closed for the next two weeks, he said.

“This virus doesn’t care about our schedules,” he said. “Not one bit, as it changes we’ve gotta change. We’re not dealing with something that cares about the difficulties that it creates with us. We know enough to know our response even if that is difficult. The White House has recommended and we agree that four steps need to be taken, two of which we have already started.”

The 30-day statewide mask mandate that went into effect on July 10 and limiting of non-commercial gatherings to 10 or fewer people are the two steps that Beshear’s office has already enacted.

“The fastest way to reduce your numbers is to enforce this,” Beshear said. “When we see large groups of people together that aren’t wearing facial coverings, then they are thwarting the progress and thwarting the sacrifice that so many others are making. Every individual’s actions can impact the life of another Kentuckian. Every individual’s actions can impact our ability to keep our economy open.”

With the two-week closing of bars, Beshear also ordered that indoor restaurant capacity be lowered to 25% with unlimited outdoor capacity honoring social distancing guidelines remaining the same, he said.

“Our hope is after the two weeks we can reopen but with stricter guidelines,” he said. “I’ll give you an example. We had a seat rule in the first set of guidelines and we are going to see and enforce that moving forward. If we operate these facilities, all people need to have a seat and sit in it; it may not be that bar experience but it will be necessary if we want to reopen. There are a lot of responsible bar owners and they are paying for the actions of others. It isn’t fair, but this virus isn’t fair. We are going to work with our city’s and municipalities to make sure we can grow that outdoor capacity.”

Beshear also “recommended” that schools statewide not open until at least the third week of August.

“You hear a lot out there about wanting to get back to in person,” he said. “We have to do it safely and you can’t do that with an uncontrolled surge in the virus. We believe waiting until the third week will give us a chance to get this thing under better control, and get us in a place where we believe we can handle this. My concern is if schools start too soon it will be harder to get schools open. I’m making the recommendation keeping my own kids in mind and because I care about my kids, your and our teachers and administrators.”

McLean County Public Schools had already set its opening date to Aug. 26 — a week later than the governor’s recommendation.

The total number of statewide cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday were 532, bringing the state’s total to 28,126 with 21 children under the age of five being diagnosed.

Locally, the Green River District Health Department reported Tuesday 34 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases — 9 in Daviess County, 10 in Ohio County, 10 in Henderson County, one in McLean County, one in Union County and three in Webster County.

McLean County has had 40 confirmed cases thus far with 36 of those cases having recovered.

The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in the district is 1,483 and 25 reported confirmed cases are currently hospitalized.

The district-wide total of recovered cases is now 1,180.

Free testing will be available at the McLean County Health Center Wednesday, Aug. 5 from 2-3 p.m. Appointments must be scheduled in advance at the GRDHD website, healthdepartment.org.

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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