COVID-19: SLO County reports 54 cases, 25 in North County, Paso Robles a ‘high point’
Click here for the latest – Friday, March 27 – COVID-19: SLO County reports 59 cases, releases city data
–On Thursday, March 26, at 1 p.m., the County of San Luis Obispo updated the community regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, 54 local residents have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. The county reports that 10 local patients had recovered from the virus, one is in an intensive care unit, four are hospitalized, and 39 are at home.
On Wednesday, the county announced 46 cases; plans to create a field hospital at Cal Poly with 400-700 beds; and called for volunteers to dramatically increase the county’s Medical Reserve Corps. The State of California announced a major financial relief package, including 90-day mortgage payment relief. On Tuesday, the county had reported 42 cases, SLO County Courts closed, and a CalPoly student tested positive.
There are now 25 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in North San Luis Obispo County. That’s the highest level of any region in the county, and infections in North County are rising faster than other regions in the county.
Paso Robles is a ‘high point’, county says
After releasing the latest statistics, the county held a press conference Thursday at 3:15 p.m. at the county’s Joint Information Center at 1133 Kansas Avenue, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said Paso Robles is a “high point” of COVID-19 infection. “That doesn’t mean we want everyone in Paso Robles to shutter in their houses. It does mean that perhaps people from Templeton stay away for now.” Paso Robles Daily News asked Dr. Borenstein and County Administrative Officer Wade Horton for clarification on her point but have received no reply as of Friday morning.
The county has not yet released details on the number of cases in cities. “We will soon start releasing cases by city, or more granular regions, but, we are not quite there yet,” said county health department spokeswoman Michelle Shoresman. “Once the number of cases is such that releasing numbers for smaller geographic regions will not violate individual confidentiality, that will be our marker.”
Borenstein advised residents to stay in their own neighborhoods. “To the extent that people can stay close to home, that will avoid the spread throughout our county,”
How county is prioritizing its testing
Borenstein said that no one who is asymptomatic is being tested by the county health department for the virus. The county is reserving its testing capabilities for people who are symptomatic and prioritized as follows:
“Individuals who need inpatient care and who are very sick would be at the very top of the list of who should be tested,” she said. “Secondly, we are prioritizing people who get sick who are on the front lines. So healthcare workers themselves as well as our first responders as well as the people who are basically living in our emergency operation center.”
Next are “Household contacts of our confirmed cases if they become sick we are continuing to test them. We are also prioritizing residents of high-risk facilities or institutions.” And finally, the elderly, she said. Other suspected cases should seek care and private testing through their primary physician, she said.
Borenstein issued a warning to anyone who is being tested or considered a suspected case: “If someone has been tested they need absolutely to stay out of the community in all ways, meaning do not go to the grocery store, do not go to the pharmacies. So if you are being considered a possible case of COVID-19 then I would say the stricter isolation order remains in place for you.”
County closing more public areas
Morro Bay and Pismo Beach will implement parking restrictions, county parks will be closing all campgrounds, the Pismo Beach and Avila pier are closed. “The reason why we are doing this is to discourage large groups from other areas coming into our county to recreate,” said San Luis Obispo County Emergency Services Director Wade Horton. “We are not closing the beaches themselves, or the regional parks.”
“In normal times, we welcome out-of-town visitors to our campgrounds and beaches, but now is not the time,” Horton said. In a press release Thursday afternoon, the county announced the following actions across SLO County:
On Thursday, March 26:
- The County is posting signs reminding residents they must keep a distance of at least six feet from others at sports courts, dog parks, skate parks and other areas. These areas may be closed if physical distancing requirements are ignored.
- City-owned parking lots and parking meters in Pismo Beach will be strictly limited to one hour.
- Pismo Beach will strictly enforce physical distancing requirements on beaches. People may visit beaches to walk, jog, surf and swim but must keep a distance of at least six feet from other people.
- Pismo Beach Pier will be closed to the public.
- San Luis Obispo will strictly enforce physical distancing requirements for trails and parks. People may visit City parks and trails, but must keep a distance of at least six feet from other people.
On Friday, March 27:
- Parking lots will be closed at all coastal County parks starting at noon. This includes Cayucos, Hardie and Shamel parks.
- Parking lots will be closed at all Morro Bay beaches (including Morro Rock, Coleman Beach, Pit and Sand parking lots) at 6 p.m. The Morro Bay public boat launch will also close. (The boat launch will remain open to commercial fishing).
- Morro Bay will strictly enforce physical distancing requirements on beaches. People may visit beaches to walk, jog, surf and swim but must keep a distance of at least six feet from other people.
- All County campgrounds will be closed. Reservations from March 27 through April 30 will be canceled for a full refund. Existing campers will be required to leave no later than Thursday, April 2.
On Monday, March 30 at noon:
- El Chorro Regional Park will be closed, as the County will be using that site as a location to care for homeless individuals who test positive for COVID-19. This includes the campground, day-use areas and golf course.
County Park Rangers will continue to patrol closed campgrounds. The county will coordinate with local organizations to ensure that existing services for people who are homeless are not disrupted.
All other areas are currently scheduled to remain open; this may change as the situation evolves or if residents do not adhere to physical distancing requirements at parks.
“We encourage SLO County residents and those who wish to visit SLO County to recreate near their respective homes,” said Mr. Horton. “We look forward to welcoming visitors again when it is safe to do so.”
The county is also coordinating with the state on various other closures or limited access to State Parks located in San Luis Obispo County.
The county’s recent Shelter at Home order does not restrict residents from going outdoors for exercise or recreation as long as they are able to keep a physical distance of six feet from other people. Individuals who are members of the same household do not need to maintain this physical distance from each other.
Distribution of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County
- North County cases – 25
- Coastal County cases – 9
- San Luis Obispo central cases – 5
- South County cases – 15
Ages of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County
- Age 0-17 years old – 3
- Age 18-49 years old – 20
- Age 50-64 – 14
- Age 65 years or older – 17
Cases of COVID-19 by status in San Luis Obispo County
- At home – 39
- Hospitalized – 4
- Hospitalized in intensive care – 1
- Recovered – 10
- Deaths – 0
Source of transmission of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County
- Travel related transmission – 23
- Known person-to-person transmission – 16 (most in households)
- Unknown community-acquired transmission – 5
- Unknown – 10
Cases of COVID-19 by testing laboratory
- SLO County Public Health Lab – 26
- Private labs – 28
Private labs doing testing include WestPac Labs, Quest Diagnostics, Pacific Diagnostic Laboratories, LabCorp, VRDL. As of Thursday afternoon, the county reports conducting 330 COVID-19 tests. An unknown number of residents have been tested by private labs, the county reports.
Additional information from the State of California and County of San Luis Obispo:
County moves to restrict visitors to health care facilities
–To further limit the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in San Luis Obispo County, the County Health Officer issued a public order today that restricts visitors and non-essential personnel from hospitals and certain types of licensed residential facilities, such as skilled nursing facilities and adult residential care facilities.
“We know people will want to visit their loved ones in the hospital or nursing home, but we all must take these necessary steps now to save lives in the days and weeks to come,” said County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein.
Effective today, March 26, 2020, hospitals and types of licensed residential facilities listed in the order must restrict access or entry to visitors and non-essential personnel. The order has some limited exceptions. For example, a designated visitor could be allowed for women in active labor, a pediatric patient, or patients near the end of life.
Visitations deemed “necessary” – those based on urgent health, legal, or other issues – are permitted under the order, but must follow requirements of COVID-19 guidance and requirements of the respective facility.
Visitors and non-essential personnel are employees, contractors, or members of the public who do not perform treatment, maintenance, support, or administrative tasks deemed essential to the healthcare mission of the hospital or residential facility.
Violation of or failure to comply with the order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
County planning a “Safe Parking” program for local homeless population
–The County of San Luis Obispo Emergency Operations Center is initiating a program that will use safe parking lots throughout the county to provide homeless individuals and families with access to safe, clean spaces to park and sleep overnight.
Starting today, Thursday, March 26 from 7 p.m. until Friday, March 27 at 7 a.m., the first site will be located at Los Osos Library parking lot at 2075 Palisades Ave. in Los Osos. The parking lot will be used in this capacity nightly thereafter, until further notice.
“Those less fortunate, who don’t have a warm home to go to and seek shelter, were at least in some cases able to shower at local gyms and other businesses, which are currently closed due to COVID-19,” said County Administrative Officer Wade Horton. “We are trying to meet their basic needs, so that they can have a safe and sanitary place to sleep at night.”
Sites will be equipped with restrooms and some sites will have shower facilities when possible. Personnel will be on-site to check in families and individuals and ensure that they are in a safe environment throughout the night.
Participating families and individuals are required to agree to site rules, such as respectful behavior and no drug or alcohol use.
Regional COVID-19 coronavirus cases
At 54 cases of COVID-19, San Luis Obispo County’s total is higher than its neighboring counties. SLO County has more confirmed cases than any other county between San Jose and Los Angeles. Information as of 1 p.m., March 26:
- Monterey County cases – 24 confirmed, 1 death, no new cases today, 365 tested
- San Benito County cases – 9 confirmed, 2 recovered, 1 death, testing not reported
- Fresno County cases – 19 confirmed, testing not reported
- Kings County cases – None confirmed, 77 tested
- Kern County cases – 15 confirmed, 952 tested
- Santa Barbara County cases – 26 confirmed, 6 recovered, 493 tested
- Ventura County cases – 50 confirmed, including 4 hospital workers, 1 death, 808 tested
- Los Angeles County cases – 1,216, 21 deaths
COVID-19 in California by the numbers
The following numbers reflect information received by local health jurisdictions as of 2 p.m. March 25.
- 3,006 – Positive cases
- 65 – Deaths (including one non-California resident)
- 886 – Community-acquired cases
- 2,120 – Cases acquired through person-to-person transmission, travel (including cruise ship passengers), repatriation, or under investigation. This includes 42 health care workers.
Ages of all confirmed positive cases in California
- Age 0-17: 37 cases
- Age 18-49: 1,505 cases
- Age 50-64: 764 cases
- Age 65+: 678 cases
- Unknown: 22 cases
Gender of all confirmed positive cases in California
- Female: 1,309 cases
- Male: 1,665 cases
- Unknown: 32 cases
State Parks takes steps to slow the spread of COVID-19: Vehicle access closed for more parks
–California State Parks today announced it is temporarily closing vehicle access to 59 additional state parks and beaches to avoid dangerous visitation surges and help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This brings the total number of state-operated parks and beaches closed to vehicle access to 98. A list of closures can be found online at www.parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.
Last weekend, many state parks and beaches received record visitation numbers, which made it impossible for the public to implement appropriate social/ physical distancing practices. As a result, State Parks is working closely with local county and public health officials and assessing park operations on a daily basis to provide access to healthy outdoor options while maintaining required social/ physical distancing.
“Everyone has the responsibility to ‘Flatten the COVID-19 Curve at Parks’,” the announcement said. Avoiding groups of people and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others is critical to slowing the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Parks said it will continue to monitor visitation and physical distancing at all state park units, and if the safety measures implemented thus far are not sufficient to protect public health, additional measures may be taken to fully close parks, including trails, bathrooms, and other amenities. State Park Peace Officers, in cooperation with allied law enforcement entities, will continue patrolling all state park units and enforcing all regulations.
To date, the department has implemented various safety measures such as temporarily closing all campgrounds, museums and visitor centers in the State Parks System; canceling all events; and closing vehicular traffic to parks experiencing high visitation. As of today, all non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails and beaches, remain open. Day-use restrooms also remain open, and visitors are advised to bring soap for handwashing and to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when water is not available.
Forest Service closes developed recreation sites throughout California until April 30
–USDA Forest Service issued a press release Thursday afternoon saying the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service, in response to the recent statewide shelter-in-place order issued by the Governor of California, is joining the cause to aggressively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by closing developed recreation facilities on our National Forests statewide.
“Developed recreation sites” refers to designated recreational use areas designed to facilitate public use. Information on individual recreation sites and opportunities are available from local National Forests.
Closures of developed recreation facilities are being put in place until at least April 30th in an attempt to avoid groups of people and promote social distancing of staying more than six feet apart.
While designated recreation sites will be closed, the general Forest area including the extensive trail system will remain open and available to the public. Hiking and walking outdoors are widely considered beneficial to maintaining one’s health. It is the intent of USDA Forest Service to maintain trail access to the extent practicable.
“Please keep health, safety and the environment in mind when visiting National Forests. Your personal responsibility is critical to ensuring public safety and preventing further restrictions,” the press release said. “We ask that you consider whether your personal participation in outdoor recreation at this time would pose an unnecessary risk to others as we all work together to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19.”
White House response to COVID-19, Thursday, March 26
Forward video to the 31-minute mark
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.
- Follow all local COVID-19 coronavirus news updates
- San Luis Obispo County COVID-19 website – readyslo.org