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Masks now mandatory in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. — If you’re planning to go to Kentucky, take your mask.

On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that, starting Friday, anyone in public in the state will have to wear a mask.

“It’s not voluntary, it’s mandatory,” Beshear said. “I’m willing to take whatever criticism comes with that.”

Beshear said people who repeatedly refuse to wear masks in public could face a fine, and businesses, like restaurants that don’t mask their employees, could be temporarily shut down.

The order, which will last for 30 days, does not require Kentuckians to wear a mask while eating, drinking or exercising, if they can maintain social distancing of six feet. Exemptions also include children under age 5 and those with health conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask.

The mandate comes after two of the highest days of daily COVID-19 cases the state has recorded since March. Kentucky announced 333 newly reported cases and four deaths on Thursday.

On Monday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice put out an executive order that everyone over the age of 9 has to wear the face coverings inside buildings when social distancing isn’t possible.

“I’m telling you, West Virginia, if we don’t do that and do this now we’re going to be in a world of hurt,” he said, adding that “it’s not much of an inconvenience.”

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine put out a mandate on Wednesday requiring people to wear masks in counties that are classified as Red Alert Level 3 due to a high number of COVID-19 cases.

That includes any indoor location that is not a residence, when unable to maintain a six foot social distance in an outdoor setting and while on public transportation or taxi.

The order does not apply to children under the age of 10 or any other minor who cannot safely wear a face covering.

The order also reflects the mask guidance in place for employees and businesses which does not require a person to wear a mask if their physician advises against it, if wearing a mask is prohibited by federal regulation, if communicating with the hearing impaired, when alone in an office or personal workspace, and other similar measures.

That includes the counties of Butler, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Lorain, Montgomery, Pickaway, Summit, Trumbull and Wood.

For most people, the new corona virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness and be fatal.

(The information from this article came from the Associated Press.)