SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - San Luis Obispo County officials announced Tuesday they are expecting the county will soon be added to the state's COVID-19 watch list due to a recent rise in case numbers.
Over the last 14 days, the county has seen a positive case rate
of about 114 cases per 100,000 people. That number exceeds the state's maximum level of 100 cases per 100,000 people.
County Administrative Officer and Emergency Services Director Wade Horton said the recent spike has not come as a surprise.
"As we continued to reopen, we expected to see our cases increase," said Horton. "
Dr. Penny Borensetin, San Luis Obispo County's Public Health Officer, points out the virus is now widespread throughout the county and that residents need to be especially vigilant to keep it from spreading.
“These numbers are a strong reminder that we are bringing COVID-19 home—from travel, from work, from outings—and we need take all the necessary precautions to ensure that SLO County can remain open and our health care system can continue to care for the sick,” said Borensetin.
The state's watch list includes more than 20 counties, including both Santa Barbara and Ventura. Counties that have been on the watch list for more than three days have had some of their industries be forced to close up shop.
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered bars and wineries that appeared on the watch list to close for three weeks. Restaurants and other businesses were ordered to close their indoor operations and expand outdoors. Both Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties were affected by these orders.
San Luis Obispo County has avoided that same fate until this week. It's numbers have significantly lower than its neighbors to the south, but have taken a sharp turn upwards over the past several weeks.
Since June 1, San Luis Obispo County has seen 467 new cases diagnosed.
It entered the month of June with only 341 cases since tracking began on March 24.
Due to the recent surge, county public health officials say they expect to be placed on the state's list "soon."
County Administrative Officer and Emergency Services Director Wade Horton said he expects the county to hear back from state officials by the end of the week.
They'll be contacting us and letting us know what the next step is," said Horton. "They're going to take a look at our other metrics. We're doing really well in all of our other metrics, so hopefully they'll be taking that into consideration, but the intent is they want to see our increase in cases stabilized."
Other potential businesses the may close includes: movie theaters, family entertainment centers (bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades), zoos, museums and cardrooms.
Borenstein said she hopes the county's stay on the monitoring list is a short one and reminded residents that their cooperation is needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep the local economy open.
“The people of SLO County can turn this around if we each do our part,” Borenstein said. “Wear face coverings in public, stay home when you’re sick, maintain a safe distance from others you don’t live with, practice good hygiene, and stay close to home. These simple things can help SLO County stay healthy and open.”
Horton emphasized that other key COVID-19-related metrics remain strong, particularly hospitalizations.
Currently, there are 13 people in county hospitals due to COVID-19, including five in intensive care.
"Our priority from the state of the pandemic is to make sure we have adequate health care capacity to take care of those that do get sick," said Horton.
He also echoed what Borenstein has stressed to the public, which is observing all safety measures, and to resist complacency, as the pandemic stretches into a fifth month.
"I completely understand," said Horton. "People are tired. They want to get back to life like it was. They want to get back to normal. I want to get back to normal. I think we all want to get back to normal, but the best way we can get back to normal is by doing the things we need to do to make sure that we're managing the spread of this disease."
Public health also said it's also monitoring two coronavirus outbreaks happening at care facilities in the county. An elder care facility in the North County and a San Luis Obispo center for adults with developmental disabilities both had residents taken to the hospital for COVID-19.
For the latest total number of coronavirus cases in San Luis Obispo County, click here.