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COVID-19: SLO County reports 89 cases, including 15 health care workers, Cal Poly hospital readied 


The Alternative Care Site at Cal Poly’s Rec Center is expected to open April 8. It will open with 165 beds and be able to scale to 935 beds, supplementing the 400 beds in local hospitals.


–On Thursday, April 2, at 1 p.m., the County of San Luis Obispo updated the community on the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, 89 local residents have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. That’s six more cases than reported Wednesday and continues several days of moderate growth of new infections in this area. The county reports that 48 local patients have now recovered from the virus, two are in intensive care units, with six more hospitalized, and 33 are at home.

There are 43 cases in North San Luis Obispo County, 24 cases in Paso Robles, 17 cases in Atascadero, and six cases in Templeton. By Thursday afternoon, there were at least 10,030 cases and 216 deaths in the State of California and 236,339 cases and 5,648 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

15 local health care workers test positive

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, where County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein announced that 15 health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Of the cases, some work at hospitals, some at clinics, some are clerical, one is an EMS provider, she said.

Cal Poly Alternative Care Site set to open next week

The county is planning to have its Cal Poly field hospital, called the Alternative Care Site, ready to open on April 8. The county has at least 200 volunteers in its Medical Reserve Corps ready to help staff the facility; though, there are concerns that Governor Gavin Newsom may re-assign those volunteers elsewhere in the state.

The Alternative Care Site is expected to open with 165 beds and be able to scale to 935 beds. It will be a step-down facility to treat COVID-19 patients who do not need intensive care or ventilators, but oxygen therapy will be available at the site.

County asks residents to improve physical distancing

County Emergency Services Director Wade Horton issued an alert to residents to keep recreation to their surrounding neighborhoods and avoid close contact with others not in their immediate family unit. He said there were 50 people recently crowding the Los Osos Skate Park recently, and people too close to each other on hiking trails, such as the Bob Jones Trail. He said the county will shut down more facilities if the public is not maintaining physical distance from each other, also called social distancing.

More ventilators are on order

The county has purchased 25 ventilators and is expecting them to arrive on April 13. County hospitals currently have 60 ventilators. Ventilators are a key medical intervention for patients with the worst symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus disease, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“We still have original 100 ventilator order that we made initially, and of that order we are supposed to get 30 first, then an additional 70 and are not canceling that order until we have the currently ordered 25 ventilators on hand,” said County Supervisor Lynn Compton. “We also have another 30 requested through CalOES Mutual Aid.”

Wade-Horton SLO County

County continues executive order to shelter at home

—In partnership with all seven incorporated cities in San Luis Obispo County, County Emergency Services Director Wade Horton on Thursday announced in a news release that the county’s executive order to Shelter at Home remains in effect.

The emergency order went into effect on March 19, 2020, and calls for a review every 14 days to evaluate the need to continue the order. The announcement marks the first 14-day review.

“As of today, our community has been sheltering at home for two weeks⎯and we need to stay the course,” said Horton. “We must slow the spread of COVID-19 so we don’t overwhelm our hospitals. It’s important to remember that we are staying home to save lives.”

The intent of the order is to slow the spread of 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 aligns with state guidance and similar orders for counties across California.

“The actions we take today will protect our most vulnerable neighbors and help us get back to normal as soon as possible,” Horton said. “The most important thing you can do is stay home and keep six feet of physical distance from others if you leave the home for essential activities.”

Information as of 1 p.m., April 1:

Distribution of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County

  • Paso Robles reported COVID-19 cases: 24
  • Atascadero reported COVID-19 cases: 17
  • Arroyo Grande reported COVID-19 cases: 13
  • City of San Luis Obispo reported COVID-19 cases: 9
  • Morro Bay reported COVID-19 cases: 6
  • Templeton reported COVID-19 cases: 6
  • Nipomo reported COVID-19 cases: 5
  • Other San Luis Obispo County reported COVID-19 cases: 9

Ages of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County

  • Age 0-17 years old – 3
  • Age 18-49 years old – 36
  • Age 50-64 – 22
  • Age 65 years or older – 28

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

  • At home – 33
  • Hospitalized – 8
  • Of those hospitalized in intensive care – 2
  • Recovered – 48
  • Deaths – 0

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

  • Travel related transmission – 33
  • Known person-to-person transmission – 31
  • Unknown community-acquired transmission –21
  • Unknown – 4

Cases of COVID-19 by testing laboratory

  • SLO County Public Health Lab – 40
  • Private labs – 49

Private labs doing testing include WestPac Labs, Quest Diagnostics, Pacific Diagnostic Laboratories, LabCorp, VRDL. As of Monday afternoon, the county reports conducting 463 COVID-19 tests. An unknown number of residents have been tested by private labs, the county reports.

Regional COVID-19 coronavirus cases by county

Information posted as of  5 a.m., April 2:

Recent SLO County COVID-19 coronavirus updates

Additional information from government agencies:

Governor announces help for small businesses and workers

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a series of new resources to aid small businesses and help California workers who have lost work due to COVID-19.

Beginning tomorrow, California small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis can apply for a loan from the federal government for up to $10 million. Importantly, the program is first-come, first-serve and the Governor encourages all eligible California small businesses to contact their lender to learn more.

Gavin Newsom affordable housing

Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom

Today, the Governor also announced that the state is allocating $50 million to the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank for loan guarantees to small businesses to help eliminate barriers to capital for individuals who do not qualify for federal funds, including low wealth and undocumented immigrant communities. The state is also allowing small businesses to defer payment of sales and use taxes of up to $50,000, for up to 12 months.

Additionally, the Governor joined Bitwise Industries and the Kapor Center to launch, a new platform connecting displaced California workers with more than 70,000 job opportunities in critical industries.

Earlier this week, Governor Newsom signed an executive order to help small businesses, granting a 90-day extension for small businesses to pay sales taxes.

Governor Newsom also today announced $17.8 million in new state initiatives to support California workers impacted by COVID-19. The allocation will come from Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds with $7.8 million going to the Los Angeles region and $10 million made available statewide.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having cascading effects for millions of California families and small businesses,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Through no fault of their own, more than a million Californians have lost a job and countless more are seeing their businesses fail. California will emerge from this crisis stronger than before, and until then, the state will work overtime with the federal government and private sector to get families the help they need.”

Governor issues order protecting homes, small businesses from water shutoffs

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom today signed an executive order that will restrict water shutoffs to homes and small businesses while the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order protects consumers who may not be able to pay for their water service from shutoffs. Already, over 100 public and private water systems across California have voluntarily suspended water shutoffs for non-payment as a result of COVID-19. Under the order, the State Water Resources Control Board will issue best practices and guidelines on support for the state’s water systems during this time.

“This executive order will help people who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring they have water service,” said Governor Newsom. “Water is critical to our very lives, and in this time, it is critically important that it is available for everyone.”

Additionally, the executive order will restore water for occupied residences that may have had their water shut off as of March 4, 2020, which is when the Governor proclaimed a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

Governor issues statement on COVID-19-related death of police detective

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued the following statement regarding the death of Santa Rosa Police Department Detective Marylou Armer:

“Jennifer and I are terribly saddened to learn of Detective Armer’s untimely death. Amid the current fight against COVID-19, Detective Armer selflessly and courageously served her community and the people of California. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and members of the Santa Rosa community as they mourn her loss.”

Detective Armer, 44, had previously tested positive for COVID-19 and died Tuesday from complications from the illness. Her death is the first line of duty death of a police officer in California to be associated with the disease.

Detective Armer was a 20-year veteran of the City of Santa Rosa. She began her career as a Field Evidence Technician and was sworn in as a police officer in May, 2008. She was serving as a member of the Santa Rosa Police Department’s Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Team at the time of her death.

Detective Armer is survived by her husband and daughter. In honor of Detective Armer, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

PG&E and Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel extend application window for membership on the Panel due to COVID-19

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — On Thursday, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel (the Panel) announced jointly today that the application window for membership on the Panel has been delayed due to the current COVID-19 situation.

The 2020 application window originally launched March 12. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shelter-at-home orders have disrupted or altered most school, work and civic activities.

Given the nature of this crisis, PG&E and the Panel will delay their solicitation for applicants to a future date. A 30-day application window will be reopened and advertised at a later time, once the pandemic has subsided. Applications that have already been received since March 12, 2020 will be included in the future selection process.

All current Panel members will remain on the Panel until the 2020 membership process can be completed.

For more information about the panel, visit

About the Panel

The Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel was created to foster open and frequent dialogue between members of the local community and PG&E on matters related to DCPP decommissioning. Panelists are local community members from across San Luis Obispo County who were selected to broadly represent diverse community viewpoints. The Panel meets periodically on matters related to DCPP decommissioning and the future use of DCPP lands and facilities.

Governor issues order providing for expedited resources for COVID-19 response

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today signed an executive order that allows for the immediate use of funds to support the state’s continuing efforts to protect public health and respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The executive order facilitates expenditures from the state’s Disaster Response-Emergency Operations Account, a subaccount of the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties in the General Fund – the state’s traditional budget reserve – as well as from any other legally available fund to help with the COVID-19 response.

At the Governor’s direction, on March 25, 2020, the Department of Finance transferred $1.3 billion from the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties, the state’s traditional budget reserve, into the DREOA subaccount in preparation to pay for costs associated with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this transfer and the $99 million available balance, a total of $1.4 billion is now available in DREOA.

In addition, the Legislature enacted SB 89 prior to adjourning last month. This legislation signed by the Governor created an additional mechanism to provide up to $1 billion General Fund for expenditures related to the COVID-19 emergency.

Most of the state’s expenditures associated with the COVID-19 response are expected to be largely reimbursed by the federal government.

Governor announces agreement between teachers, classified employees and school system management to support student instruction

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced a major agreement between teachers, classified employees, school boards, superintendents, and principals to work together to provide distance learning to California’s students as a result of school closures due to mitigation efforts against the COVID-19 outbreak. The agreement means more kids will be able to get school resources, such as quality distance instruction, and empowers teachers to create lessons within clear parameters.

“While schools might be physically closed, class is still in session,” said Governor Newsom. “This agreement is good news for students and parents, and the announcement means that more California kids will have tools to learn at home during this crisis.”

“The labor and management groups understand the importance of all of us working together during this unprecedented time. The framework for this collaboration created jointly, models how we can all come together to better serve our students,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

The agreement includes a collaboration framework for school employers and employees to work together on matters of labor and management to minimize any impact to students—including direction on implementation and delivery of distance learning, special education, and meals through the end of the school year. Endorsing organizations include the following: California Department of Education, Association of California School Administrators, California Teachers Association, California School Boards Association, California Federation of Teachers, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, California School Employees Association, California Association of School Business Officials, Service Employees International Union, Small School Districts’ Association, AFSCME California, and the California Labor Federation.

The Governor also announced a partnership with Google to provide mobile hotspots and Chromebooks to students in rural areas to facilitate distance learning. Specifically, Google will be donating Chromebooks and will fund the use of 100,000 donated mobile hotspots to provide free and unlimited high-speed Internet connectivity for the remainder of the school year. The California Department of Education will be distributing these resources, prioritizing rural communities.

“I am so proud of every sector of our state—private, public, labor—coming together to meet this moment, and I am calling on other companies to match Google’s investment today to ensure our students and teachers have the resources they need to continue their education during this time,” said Governor Newsom.

“We at California State PTA stand behind the Governor in his efforts to keep children, families, and school staff safe during this crisis. We concur with the Governor that quality distance learning, meals for students, and the care and supervision of children are top priorities in the coming months. Efforts to provide internet access are particularly important for our underserved communities. Parents and caregivers throughout California are performing multiple roles during this crisis, and the Governor’s expression of appreciation for their extraordinary efforts is very well received by PTA,” said Celia Jaffe, President of the California State PTA.

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.