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COVID-19 update: SLO County reports seven new cases, 149 total cases 

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–As of Thursday afternoon, the County of San Luis Obispo reported 149 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus. That is seven more cases than Wednesday. There are 119 recovered cases. One person has died from the virus. One person is hospitalized.

By Wednesday afternoon, there were at least 39,010 cases and 1,514 deaths in the State of California and 866,646 cases and 46,759 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.


Distribution of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County

  • Paso Robles reported COVID-19 cases: 40
  • Atascadero reported COVID-19 cases: 25
  • Arroyo Grande reported COVID-19 cases: 19
  • City of San Luis Obispo reported COVID-19 cases: 15
  • Nipomo reported COVID-19 cases: 13
  • San Miguel reported COVID-19: 7
  • Templeton reported COVID-19 cases: 7
  • Morro Bay reported COVID-19 cases: 6
  • Pismo Beach reported COVID-19 cases: 6
  • Other San Luis Obispo County reported COVID-19 cases: 11

Ages of COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County

  • Age 0-17 years old – 6
  • Age 18-49 years old – 55
  • Age 50 – 64 years  – 47
  • Age 65 and older – 41

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

  • At home – 28
  • Hospitalized – 1
  • Recovered – 119
  • Deaths – 1

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

  • Travel related transmission – 48
  • Known person-to-person transmission – 48
  • Unknown community-acquired transmission – 49
  • Unknown – 4

Number of people tested for COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County

The county reports conducting 926 COVID-19 tests in its lab. An unknown number of residents have been tested by private labs, the county reports. The county detected 50 cases, and 99 cases were detected by private labs. Private labs doing testing include WestPac Labs, Quest Diagnostics, Pacific Diagnostic Laboratories, LabCorp, and VRDL.


Recent SLO County COVID-19 coronavirus updates


County eased some restrictions on Wednesday

Effective immediately, the county has relaxed restrictions on certain activities, including drive-in religious services, janitorial and housekeeping services, retail stores that sell fabric, and drive-in theaters. Physical distancing must be maintained, the county said in a statement.

“We know some residents are concerned that we are relaxing restrictions too fast and others are concerned that we are taking too long,” County Administrative Officer and Emergency Services Director Wade Horton said. “Our decisions are based on data – our case count and hospitalization trends for the last 14 days.”

County officials clarified today that effective immediately, certain businesses and activities can operate under the current Shelter at Home orders:

  • Houses of worship can have drive-in services, as long as individuals remain in their vehicles and physical distancing is adhered to. Physical sharing or passing of items is highly discouraged.
  • Janitorial and housekeeping services can operate, as long as individuals observe the Public Health Department’s recommendations for physical distancing, face coverings, and hygiene.
  • Retail stores that sell fabric can operate, using the current Public Health recommendations; this will allow community members to make face coverings.
  • Drive-in theaters can operate and must observe Public Health Department guidance.

 

The county’s Shelter at Home order is meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County by ensuring that most people self-quarantine in their places of residence to the greatest extent possible while enabling essential services to continue. New cases of COVID-19 in SLO County have slowed over the past 14 days, and officials are taking that information into account when updating guidance and recommendations. The County is simultaneously working with community partners to develop a phased reopening plan for use after the governor lifts the state order.

“We are not returning to business as usual. This does not mean people can ignore the Shelter at Home order,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, the County Health Officer. “People should still stay home as much as possible, stay home if they are sick, wash their hands frequently, maintain a safe six feet of physical distance from others when outside of the home, and wear face coverings when they cannot keep a safe six feet from others.”

On Monday, the county said that elective surgery, construction, dog grooming, and recreational fishing can safely resume.

The San Luis Obispo County Health Department has been live-streaming updates on its Facebook page. “Follow” their page to see when they go live.


Governor announces additional relief for Californians impacted by COVID-19

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that most private student loan servicers have agreed to provide payment and other relief to borrowers, including more than 1.1 million Californians with privately held student loans. He also signed an executive order to stop debt collectors from garnishing COVID-19-related financial assistance.

“Californians are reeling from the financial impact of COVID-19, the recently unemployed and those with student loan debt are among the hardest hit,” said Governor Newsom. “The last thing they deserve is to see more money withheld as they try to put food on the table and pay their rent or mortgage.”

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided much-needed relief for students with federal loans, including the suspension of monthly payments, interest, and involuntary collection activity until September 30, 2020. However, the CARES Act did not address millions of student loan borrowers with federal loans that are not owned by the U.S. government as well as loans made by private lenders. The initiative announced today gives direct help to those borrowers.

Under the new initiative by California and other states, students with commercially owned Federal Family Education Loan or privately held student loans who are struggling to make payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic may also be eligible for expanded relief. Relief options include providing a minimum of 90 days forbearance, waiving late payment fees, ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting, and helping eligible borrowers enroll in other assistance programs.

Governor Newsom also signed an executive order that exempts garnishment for any individuals receiving federal, state or local government financial assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes recovery rebates under the CARES Act. Funds may still be garnished for child support, family support, spousal support or criminal restitution for victims.

These actions will help those Californians who are impacted the most by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Governor issues order empowering schools to focus on COVID-19 response and transparency

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today issued an executive order that empowers schools to focus on responding to COVID-19 and to provide transparency to their communities.

The order extends the deadlines for local educational agencies to submit Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP), which are multi-year planning documents tied to budget projections. By law, LCAPs must be developed in collaboration with parents, students, teachers, and community groups. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, school leaders are appropriately focused on managing the immediate needs of their students and families.

Local educational agencies will publish a written report to their communities explaining how they are responding to COVID-19. They will be required to explain steps they have taken to deliver high-quality distance learning opportunities, provide school meals in non-congregate settings, and arrange for supervision of students during ordinary school hours. They will also be required to explain the steps they have taken to meet the needs low-income students, English learners, and foster youth. The report will help provide transparency and accountability to communities.

The executive order also waives required physical education minutes and annual physical fitness testing that requires on-site instruction. Academic assessments were previously waived under a separate order.


Governor provides flexibility to Medi-Cal providers and the Department of Health Care Services for continuity of service

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today issued an executive order that will give flexibility to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and Medi-Cal providers on a variety of deadlines and requirements to ensure continuity of service to patients and customers is not impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The executive order will allow fair hearings to continue for California Children’s Services on grievances and appeals to take place by phone or video conference. Additionally, the order will ensure flexibility for DHCS and the Department of Social Services to continue providing mental health care services and programs.

Finally, the executive order will temporarily suspend requirements for in-person signatures for people to obtain certain prescription drugs covered by Medi-Cal, and will allow a 90-day extension for providers on cost reporting, change of scope of service and administrative hearings.


State announces plan to resume delayed health care that was deferred as hospitals prepared for COVID-19 surge

SACRAMENTO – Today, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to allow hospitals and health systems to resume delayed medical care for Californians – such as heart valve replacements, angioplasty, and tumor removals, and key preventive care services, such as colonoscopies – which were deferred as the state’s health care delivery systems prepared for a surge of COVID-19 patients. The decision was based on progress toward preparing California hospitals and health systems for a surge in COVID-19 patients – one of the six critical indicators the governor unveiled last week as part of the state’s framework for gradually modifying California’s stay-at-home order.

As part of the Western State’s Pact, California will work with Washington and Oregon to share best practices on how our states can allow hospitals and medical providers to resume delayed medical care in areas that have sufficient hospital capacity, while ensuring the safety and health of our health care workers and patients. The Western states had previously announced a shared, science-based vision for gradually reopening their economies and controlling COVID-19 into the future.

“From the beginning, I have said California’s decisions will be guided by science, not politics, and that Californians’ health comes first,” said Governor Newsom. “Thanks to the work our health care delivery system has done expanding hospital capacity and reducing the rate of spread of COVID-19, hospitals and health systems can consider resuming medical care that residents have delayed during this crisis, such as heart valve replacements, angioplasty and tumor removals, when such care can be delivered safety and with appropriate protections for health care workers. It’s in the best interest of the overall health of our state to allow these procedures to resume when they can be done safely.”

Last week, Governor Newsom announced six indicators that would drive California’s decision to gradually modify portions of the state’s stay-at-home order. They include:

  • Expanding testing and contact tracing to be able to identify and isolate those with the virus;
  • Preventing infection in people who are most at risk;
  • Being able to handle surges in hospitals and the health care delivery system;
  • Developing therapeutics to meet demand;
  • Ensuring businesses, schools and child care facilities can support physical distancing; and
  • Determining when to reinstate certain measures like the stay-at-home order if need be.

 

Also today, Governor Newsom announced that President Trump has personally committed to sending the state 100,000 testing swabs next week and 250,000 swabs the following week.

Health officials also outlined progress toward the first indicator: expanding testing and contact tracing to be able to identify and isolate those with the virus.

To that end, the state announced the expansion of community testing in underserved areas. The state is contracting with Verily, an Alphabet company, in partnership with Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) and with support from Rockefeller Foundation and an anonymous donor, to establish six new community testing sites focused on underserved communities such as farmworkers and communities of color. Additionally, the state is contracting with OptumServe, to establish an additional 80 community testing sites, which too will be focused on underserved communities.

“We know that communities of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Governor Newsom. “We must ensure that we are deploying testing equitably in an effort to reduce the higher death rates we are seeing in African American and Latino communities.”

In addition, the state is:

  • Accelerating equitable COVID-19 testing by aiming to deploy 25,000 tests per day by April 30; establishing an additional 80-100 testing sites; and identifying five new high-throughput testing hubs.
  • Establishing a contact tracing workforce by surveying counties on their capacity; developing a statewide training academy; and training 10,000 public health connectors to conduct contact tracing.
  • Developing isolation protocols and supports by identifying regional alternate isolation sites and building private-public partnerships to support those who are isolated.
  • Deploying data management system and tools by publishing a symptom-check app; deploying a data management platform; and establishing a data dashboard for the public.



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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.