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Update: Second SLO County resident tests positive for COVID-19 – See new information 

san luis obispo and paso robles covid-19 coronavirus update

Prompt protective actions may be necessary to limit spread, county says

–The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department reported Sunday at 12:40 p.m. that another individual in San Luis Obispo County tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 COVID-19. This is the second confirmed case in the county. Both cases are believed to be caused by community transmission, officials said. Santa Barbara County reported its first case over the weekend.

As of Sunday evening, San Luis Obispo County health officials have tested at least 149 individuals for COVID-19, two people have tested positive, according to Michelle Shoresman, a spokeswoman with the County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency. The number tested “only accounts for the Public Health Lab. We can’t be sure how many tests private labs have run as they only need to report positives to Public Health,” she said.

“Eleven individuals currently under quarantine,” in the county, she said. “SLO County did not provide this number earlier in the incident due to the very low numbers and our relatively small population. We must protect the privacy of these individuals and low numbers, along with other clues, may enable the very curious to discover the identities of people either in quarantine or who have been tested.”

More positive test results in the county are to be expected, health officials say.

The second individual with COVID-19 is an adult, under the age of 60, with significant underlying health conditions and is a South County resident. The individual contacted their health care provider when they developed a fever and cough. A private-sector laboratory performed laboratory testing and notified the health department. The individual is recovering in isolation at home until cleared by county public health officials.

To protect the person’s privacy, the health department will not share additional information about this individual and will not say in what specific community they reside. “We must protect the privacy of these individuals,” Shoresman said. “And low numbers, along with other clues, may enable the very curious to discover the identities of people either in quarantine or who have been tested.”

The health department is currently investigating the two new cases, but County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein believes this is likely another case of community transmission in the state of California. The individual is assisting the health department in the investigation. The health department is contacting those who had been in close contact with the individual in recent days to evaluate if testing and quarantine management is needed. The health department will notify the public immediately should the investigation indicate further action and precautions are necessary.

The first confirmed case in San Luis Obispo County was reported Saturday – see story below.

“Because local testing capacity increased both at our public lab and at private-sector labs last week, we will likely see more confirmed cases in the coming days,” said Borenstein. “We are looking at all of our options to limit the spread of illness to keep our community healthy and safe. It’s now vital for everyone to do their part to limit social gatherings, practice social distancing and practice good hygiene.”

Wade Horton, County Administrative Officer and Emergency Services Director said “Prompt protective actions may be necessary to limit the spread of illness and to avoid overwhelming our health care system. This could include shutting down popular activities for a period of time. Please heed our instructions to protect our most vulnerable loved ones.”

Borenstein said, “We are all in this together and we need to each do our part to slow down the speed at which people get exposed to COVID-19, so that we don‘t overwhelm our health care system.”

On Friday, Borenstein declared a public health emergency and the County Emergency Services Director also proclaimed a local emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, local school districts announced school closures and local event organizers began canceling or postponing events throughout the county, in an effort to help limit the spread of COVID-19.


First reported case Saturday evening:

North County resident tests positive for COVID-19 coronavirus

–The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department announced Saturday evening that an individual in San Luis Obispo County tested positive for novel coronavirus COVID-19. This is the first confirmed case in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.

The individual is a North San Luis Obispo County resident, over the age of 65, with underlying health conditions who exhibited a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the health department said in a news release. The individual is recovering in isolation at home until cleared by county public health officials. The county health department did not disclose where in North County the patient resides.

County Public Health is currently investigating, but Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein believes this is likely a case of community transmission. The individual is assisting the Public Health Department in contacting those who had been in close contact in recent days to evaluate if testing and quarantine management is needed. The department will notify the public immediately should the investigation indicate further action and precautions are necessary.

COVID Paso RObles - San Luis Obispo update

Dr. Penny Borenstein

“We have expected to see cases of COVID-19 in our county and have been planning and preparing accordingly,” said Borenstein. “We are now encouraging the public to prepare for the likelihood of local community spread here as well, unrelated to this case, because that is what we have seen happen in other communities.” The county increased local testing capacity earlier this week.

Borenstein said she commends the individual and the physician for the steps they took to reduce further transmission. The individual called their doctor’s office in advance and was instructed to stay in their car upon arrival and not enter the waiting room. The physician met the patient at their car to consult and collect a swab specimen. These are the recommended steps to limit further transmission to the public and to health care providers, Borenstein said.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our community,”. Borenstein said. “We appreciate our local health care providers for continuing to be vigilant by monitoring patients to help us identify potential COVID-19 cases.”

On Friday, the county declared a public health emergency and a local emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local school closures went into effect Friday as well, and public health experts recommended calls for canceling or postponing certain types of events.

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. The county health department says everyone should take simple steps to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses including COVID-19:

  • Remain calm
  • Wash your hands with liquid soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Regularly clean surfaces touched by many people
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Avoid others who are sick
  • Avoid large gatherings of people, especially if you are over the age of 60 and have health conditions such as lung or heart disease, diabetes, and a compromised immune system.

Public Health is working with partners in health care, education, business, law enforcement, and others to prepare our community and to limit further spread. Visit ReadySLO.org for the latest public health updates and recommendations.


COVID-19 updates for Paso Robles, Atascadero, Templeton – Several local events canceled

Because of the California State Health Department’s recently updated policy on gatherings due to concerns for the COVID-19 coronavirus, a number of upcoming events, schools, and meetings have been canceled in the county. Click here to read the most current list of local coronavirus COVID-19 updates.


California COVID-19 stats – 8 a.m., March 14, 2020

  • 5 – Deaths
  • 288 – Positive cases
  • 24 – Cases of positive tests related to federal repatriation flights
  • 262 – Cases not related to repatriation flights
  • 65 – Travel-related
  • 63 – Person to person
  • 70 – Community transmission
  • 66 – Under investigation
  • 11,500+ – Number of people self-monitoring who returned to the U.S. through SFO or LAX
  • 49 – Number of local health jurisdictions involved in self-monitoring
  • 21 – Labs with test kits, 19 of which are already testing

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 or local public health department first 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: 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.