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COVID-19: Six cases reported in San Luis Obispo County 

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SLO County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein speaking to the press Tuesday afternoon.

–The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department reports today that a total of six individuals in San Luis Obispo County have tested positive for the COVID-1 coronavirus. There are three cases in North County, two cases in South County, and one case on the coast of the county. On Monday, there were three known cases in the county.

The county health department has conducted 198 COVID-19 tests so far and expects 50 more test results today. Test kits are limited in the county, but 300 more test kits are on order, a health official said. “We are only conducting tests and sampling on those with a physician referral,” said health department spokeswoman Michelle Shoresman. “Physicians must use the most current guidance for submitting tests. These include that referred patients must have fever and either dry cough or trouble breathing.”

The county health department is the only laboratory in San Luis Obispo analyzing COVID-19 tests, said San Luis Obispo County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein. She said that due to the limited number of tests available, the county lab is only testing patients who have confirmed contact with a positive case. Though other labs throughout the state are available for additional testing, she said.

“This is not a surprise and we have been planning and preparing accordingly,” said Borenstein. The number of cases will continue to increase as they are increasing across the state, she said. “What is vitally important right now is that we all do what is needed to slow the rate of spread so we don’t overwhelm our health care system.”

Of the six cases, only two are believed to have been infected through unknown community transmission, Borenstein said. One is a younger individual who had traveled internationally, the other new cases are older individuals, she said.

Borenstein and County Emergency Services Director Wade Horton said they support the new guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health Monday that includes further restrictions on operations of food and beverage establishments.

The new guidance states that bars, wineries, breweries, and pubs should be closed and that restaurants should be closed for in-restaurant seated dining and should be open only to drive-through or other pick-up/delivery options. Grocery stores and charitable food distribution sites should remain fully open and operational. As with other settings, grocery stores should ensure that social distancing of six feet per person for nonfamily members is maintained and make clear that family members can participate in activities together, stand in line together, etc, and that limiting the number of customers at any given time as necessary to reduce outdoor/indoor crowding and lines to meet social distancing guidance. Farmer’s markets should space booths accordingly to increase social distancing among patrons in line and walking about the market.

‘“We recognize the significant impact this will have on businesses and the general quality of life we enjoy in our county,” said Horton. “Slowing the spread of COVID-19 largely depends on actions taken by all members of the public, and it must be everyone’s top priority right now.”

County health officials held a meeting with hospital executives earlier today to discuss the emergency measures within existing surge response plans and to further ensure our local health care system remains responsive should we experience a surge in the demand for acute care services. There are currently a total of 60 ventilators in county hospitals, Borenstein said. Ventilators have proved critical for COVID-19 patients with the worst symptoms.

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,” the statement said.

The health department is planning a daily news conference to update the public on the latest news – it is live-streamed on Facebook.


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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.