Face masks have become a divisive issue across Kentucky and in some other states, Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday during his daily coronavirus briefing.

Beshear agreed: Wearing a face mask is uncomfortable. For those who wear eyeglasses, it fogs up lenses. Also, a face mask makes breathing more difficult.

However, a mask protects others — not the wearer — from inhaling nose and mouth secretions when someone near them speaks, sings, sneezes or coughs.

“If you listen to any of the public health professionals from around the country, there is no division on this,” Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky public health commissioner, told the audience. “There’s no lack of consensus. There’s no disagreement.”

Stack said health experts urge residents to wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19, a respiratory illness. Wearing a cloth covering over the nose and mouth is important as the nation restarts its economy, which leads to more contacts.

In addition, he asked residents to remain respectful, tolerant and kind during this worldwide health crisis. Stack said he doesn’t want a public health recommendation to turn Kentuckians against each other.

In other virus-related business, Beshear talked again about the need for residents to be tested for COVID-19.

“We cannot reopen (the economy) safely without significant statewide testing,” he said.

Kroger sponsors free drive-thru testing throughout the state, but many of the slots remain open.

In Henderson County, for example, only 45 of 400 tests were used Tuesday. About 100 residents signed up for tests Wednesday, and all of Thursday’s 400 test slots remained open as of the Wednesday press conference.

During the briefing, Beshear set aside COVID-19 a few minutes to announce action he took Wednesday. He signed an executive order that restores the right of the state attorney general and auditor to submit nominations for two seats on the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Beshear said.

In 2008, the state started a system in which the governor selected three members of the commission and allowed the attorney general and auditor to nominate candidates for the other two positions.

Former Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, rescinded that order in 2016 and appointed all the members himself. Beshear, a Democrat, served as the attorney general during the Bevin administration.

Today, Beshear serves alongside a Republican attorney general and auditor.

“I have told you all that I am beyond politics, that I want to move this state in a better direction,” Beshear said. “This is one way that we are going to do it.”

Beshear said Wednesday’s number of new confirmed coronavirus cases continued to suggest a decline in the virus. He reported 127 cases, bringing the state’s total to 9,077.

The governor announced six new deaths. To date, the virus has claimed 400 Kentuckians.

Green River District Health Department officials reported 29 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases — seven in Daviess County, one in Hancock County, five in Henderson County, one in McLean County and 15 in Ohio County.

The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in the seven-county district is 656.

Muhlenberg County Health Department officials reported six new cases, bringing that county’s total to 493.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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