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COVID-19: County announces ‘Shelter at Home Order’ starting Thursday – one new case reported 


–In response to the growing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the County of San Luis Obispo is planning to order all residents to “Shelter at Home” starting Thursday at 5 p.m. The ordinance is still in draft form. More information is expected to be released later today. Breaking the order will be a misdemeanor.

Exempt from the order will be essential travel, essential business, and essential activities such as leaving the house for health care, pharmacy visits or grocery shopping.

The county is working with Tenant and Dignity Health to expand hospital services and is purchasing 100 additional ventilators. here are currently a total of 60 ventilators in county hospitals, Borenstein said. Ventilators have proved critical for COVID-19 patients with the worst symptoms.

San Luis Obispo County officials held a press conference on Wednesday at 3 p.m. to update the community on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. County Administrative Officer Wade Horton and County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein addressed the audience gathered at the county’s Joint Information Center at 1133 Kansas Avenue, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Borenstein reported one additional COVID-19 case. The patient is in South County. With the six cases reported in SLO County yesterday, the county now has a total of seven COVID-19 patients.

County health officials held a meeting with hospital executives on Tuesday to discuss the emergency measures within existing surge response plans and to help ensure the local health care system remains responsive should the county experience a surge in the demand for acute care services.

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. “Call your regular health care provider if you need medical attention or think you should be tested for COVID-19,” county health said in a statement.

The county health department had conducted 213 COVID-19 tests. “We can’t tell you how many have been performed by private labs,” said county health spokesman Michelle Shoresman. “But so far, two of our reported cases have been identified by outside, private labs.” As of Tuesday at 6 p.m., the State of California reported 598 cases of COVID-19 out of 12,600 tests given.

County issues statement on executive order to shelter in place:

In partnership with all seven incorporated cities in San Luis Obispo County, County Emergency Services Director Wade Horton today issued an executive order for all people in San Luis Obispo County to shelter at home starting tomorrow, the county said in a news release issued Wednesday at 5:33 p.m.

The emergency order is effective Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 5 p.m. and will remain in effect until further notice. The intent of the order is to slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in San Luis Obispo County by ensuring that the maximum number of people self-quarantine in their places of residence to the maximum extent possible, while enabling essential services to continue. The executive order is in line with what other counties are doing, the release said.

“The health and safety of our community is our top priority. The actions we take today will help us get back to normal as soon as possible,” Horton said. “We made this decision to preserve our health care system and ensure that we have the capacity to care for the sickest of the sick during this pandemic.”

Essential government functions will continue, and essential businesses are encouraged to remain open. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or living unit are prohibited, except for limited purposes as expressed in the order. This order comes after the release of substantial guidance from the County Health Officer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the California Department of Public Health.

“We must act to aggressively contain the continued spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Horton said. “We need to slow down transmission of this disease, so our health care system has capacity to care for our community.”
The County Public Health Department is working closely with healthcare providers, hospitals, and community partners to address COVID-19.

SLO County Sheriff’s Office issues statement on shelter in place order:

Now that the order to shelter-in-place has been given by the County of San Luis Obispo, the Sheriff’s Office is offering guidance on our role and responsibility during this challenging time.

First and foremost, we are asking all the citizens of the county to remain calm. We understand these are trying times. But remember, the Sheriff’s Office mission is to provide service, security and safety to the community. And we can do that if we have everyone’s cooperation in being responsible citizens.

It’s important to know about a shelter-in-place directive that you are allowed to leave your house. You can still leave to get food or medicine or keep doctor’s appointments. You can leave your house to take your dog on a walk. You can leave your house if you want to go for a hike. Just remember the rules regarding the six-foot social distancing rule and to avoid gathering in large groups.

The Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide full service to the community. We will maintain robust staffing in the field and the public should expect to see our deputies patrolling in their communities with no break in service. Additionally, we will have a high saturation of patrols targeted in the commercial corridors.

Again, we ask for your cooperation during this time. And by working with each other, we know will get through this together.

How can people protect themselves

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

  • 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.
  • Practice 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 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.