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COVID-19: County reports 46 coronavirus cases, plans field hospital with 400-700 beds at Cal Poly 



See the latest update here – COVID-19: SLO County reports 54 cases, 25 in North County, Paso Robles a ‘high point’ 

–On Wednesday, March 25, at 1:30 p.m., the County of San Luis Obispo updated the community regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, 46 local residents have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. The county reports that seven local patients have recovered from the virus, one is in an intensive care unit, two are hospitalized, and 36 are recovering at home.

There are now 20 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in North San Luis Obispo County, the highest level of any region in the county.

Distribution of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County

  • North County cases – 20
  • Coastal County cases – 9
  • San Luis Obispo central cases – 4
  • South County cases – 13

Ages of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County

  • Age 0-17 years old – 3
  • Age 18-49 years old – 19
  • Age 50-64 – 11
  • Age 65 years or older – 13

Cases of COVID-19 by status in San Luis Obispo County

  • At home – 34
  • Hospitalized – 1
  • Hospitalized in intensive care – 1
  • Recovered – 6
  • Deaths – 0

Source of transmission of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County

  • Travel related transmission – 20
  • Known person-to-person transmission – 9 (most in households)
  • Unknown community-acquired transmission – 7
  • Unknown – 10

Cases of COVID-19 by testing laboratory

  • SLO County Public Health Lab – 23
  • Private labs – 23


Private labs doing testing include WestPac Labs, Quest Diagnostics, Pacific Diagnostic Laboratories, LabCorp, VRDL. As of Wednesday afternoon, the county reports conducting 325 COVID-19 tests. An unknown number of residents have been tested by private labs, the county reports.

On Tuesday, the county had reported 42 cases, SLO County Courts closed, and a CalPoly student tested positive.

County plans field hospital at Cal Poly, asks for volunteers, and emphasizes physical distancing

After releasing the latest statistics, the county held a press conference Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. at the county’s Joint Information Center at 1133 Kansas Avenue, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

San Luis Obispo County Emergency Services Director Wade Horton said the county is planning to set up an emergency field hospital at the Cal Poly recreation center. The county is planning to start moving in and making site improvements to the center next week. He said it will have 400 hospital beds and be able to scale up to 700 beds.

Starting next week, the county will be installing additional power supply, setting up an oxygen manifold to supply ventilators, and build a screening center for admitting patients.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein made a plea to area residents with medical experience on all levels to volunteer. She said the county needs to “dramatically expand” its Medical Reserve Corps. See related story: County calls for volunteers to help activate Medical Reserve Corps.

Horton expressed concern for a lack of social distancing in the community. “Social distancing is critical,” he said. “Please respect physical distancing of six feet” from other people while standing in lines at grocery stores or when being active outdoors, he said.

Horton said the county is keeping an eye on parks and golf courses and may close them if people are not keeping a safe distance from each other.

Regional COVID-19 coronavirus cases

Information provided by county health departments, as of 1 p.m., March 25

Additional information from the State of California and County of San Luis Obispo:

COVID-19 in California by the numbers

The following numbers reflect information received by local health jurisdictions as of 2 p.m., March 24.

  • 2,535 – Positive cases
  • 53 – Deaths (including one non-California resident)
  • 1,828 – Cases acquired through person-to-person transmission, travel, repatriation, or under investigation. Includes
  • 35 health care workers infected
  • 707 – Community-acquired cases
  • 22 – State and county health labs currently testing

Ages of all confirmed positive cases

  • Age 0-17: 37 cases
  • Age 18-49: 1,278 cases
  • Age 50-64: 638 cases
  • Age 65+: 562 cases
  • Unknown: 20 cases

Gender of all confirmed positive cases:

  • Female: 1,117 cases
  • Male: 1,389 cases
  • Unknown: 29 cases

California moves to strengthen health care system’s capacity

SACRAMENTO – On Wednesday, the State of California announced that Seton Medical Center in Daly City will begin accepting up to 220 COVID-19 patients. California is leasing the medical center for three months to expand the capacity of the health care delivery system to respond to ongoing and anticipated increases in COVID-19 cases that require medical care. Verity will operate Seton Medical Center on the state’s behalf.

“Today Seton Medical Center in Daly City started accepting COVID-19 patients on behalf of the state. California will continue to do our part to expand our capacity to respond to a potential surge in COVID-19 patients. It is also important that each and every Californian do their part by staying home and practicing social distancing. We can get through this together if we all do our part,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

California also has a three-month lease agreement with St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles. California is readying the facility to begin providing care for up to 366 COVID-19 patients as soon as possible. This builds on California’s previous work, in partnership with local officials, to reopen Community Hospital in Long Beach. The facility reopened last Saturday and began accepting patients transferred from other hospitals in the area. The hospital has a capacity of 158 beds.

See related: California continues to take action to respond to COVID-19.

What is the cause of COVID-19 transmission?

–Transmission of the COVID-19 virus appears to be caused by close and prolonged contact, Borenstein said. The greater the illness has affected someone, the more likely they are to transmit it to other people, she said. Asymptomatic transmission, if occurring at all, is a minor proportion of infections, she said. Airborne infection appears to be limited to someone infected who coughs or sneezes and vapor droplets may linger for a short period of time. But neither asymptomatic transmission nor airborne transmission appear to be a dominant means of transmission, she said. The virus does tend to transfer well with human contacts, like shaking hands, and linger on hard surfaces, studies have shown.

How people can protect themselves

Every person has a role to play. Protecting yourself and your family comes down to common sense:

  • Staying home except for essential activities – “Shelter at home
  • Washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover a cough or sneeze with your sleeve, or disposable tissue. Wash your hands afterward.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.
  • Practicing social distancing.
  • Following guidance from public health officials.

What to do if you think you’re sick

Call ahead: If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough or shortness of breath) and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19, or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your health care provider before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

San Luis Obispo County’s urgent communicable disease line is (805) 781-4553.

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About the author: Publisher Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.