Gov. Andy Beshear said his ban on mass gatherings does not single out places of worship.
“I’m not trying to set rules that are difficult and I’m not trying to set rules that are controversial, I’m just trying to save people’s lives,” Beshear said at Tuesday’s briefing.
Earlier on Tuesday, Attorney General Daniel Cameron threatened to sue Beshear if he doesn’t allow religious organizations to hold in-person services during the pandemic. The ban went into effect on March 19.
The governor announced 230 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, for a total of 4,375, saying that he still believes Kentucky is in the “plateau” of the pandemic. Beshear also announced 14 new deaths, for a total of 225. He said there is one more probable death related to COVID-19.
Beshear said it will be mandatory for people to wear cloth masks in the workplace to help stymie the spread of the coronavirus as some businesses start reopening in coming weeks.
He also strongly recommended that people wear masks when going out in public, though he said individuals would not be penalized for not doing so.
“Nobody’s going to get punished, individually, for not wearing one of these,” Beshear said. “But isn’t it your duty?
Beshear announced on Monday that some non-health care related business might be able to reopen starting May 11, although they will be required to follow rules dealing with social distancing, personal protective equipment and sanitation.
During his daily update on Tuesday, Beshear unveiled 10 requirements for employers set to reopen, including that they continue to telework when possible, conduct onsite temperature checks, require everyone to wear masks, close common areas and enforce social distancing requirements.
State officials encouraged people to use cloth masks or bandanas, but not to wear N95 masks — the industry standard for workers in the health care industry — saying they need to be reserved for first responders.
Beshear apologized for erroneously saying that an unemployment claim filed by a Kentuckian named Tupac Shakur was fraudulent.
Beshear said on Monday that there are “bad apples” who have filed for unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic using fake names, highlighting a claim filed by Tupac Shakur — the same name as the famous rapper who was murdered in 1996.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Tuesday that a man named Tupac Malik Shakur, who goes by Malik, is in fact very real and worked as a cook in local restaurants in Lexington until they were shut down due to the pandemic.
Beshear apologized to Shakur over the phone on Tuesday.
“I owned it. It’s my fault. He was gracious,” Beshear said.
Kentucky has experienced a record number of unemployment claims since restrictions were imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Beshear said the state is working to address a backlog of claims and that there are still 37,000 people who filed in March who are waiting to get benefits.