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Medical officials concerned about record number of COVID-19 cases in SLO County

SLO County Orange Tier

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- The number of active cases of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County has reached an all-time high, drawing concerns from health and medical officials.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department recently announced that 2,967 new cases have been reported in the past week, to go along with 3,573 current active cases, and a 14-day average of 342. 

"The Omicron (variant) is clearly showing its true colors in saying that it's really infectious," said Dr. Thomas Vendegna, French Hospital Medical Center Chief Medical Officer. "That's why our case rate is really high."

While the numbers are at the highest level since the pandemic started nearly two years ago in March 2020, they likely do no reflect the actual number of cases since the numbers do not include those who test positive through at-home tests or cannot access testing. 

"It's hard to believe how many people are being impacted," said Robert Cook, Twin Cities Community Hospital Chief Nursing Officer. "We normally do 25 tests a day for Covid here. We've been doing over 200 tests a day over the last couple of weeks, so it's definitely having a big impact on our ability to take care of the community."

Public Health has also reported the Omicron variant now represents about 90% of recently sequenced cases in the county.

"It is very concerning," said Cook. "We're seeing probably the highest number of patients that we've seen surge through the hospital. We want to make sure that we're here to take care of our community and it's getting tougher and tougher to do that. Our staff is giving it everything they have. They're tired. They've worked long hours and long days. Covid takes an emotional toll on our staff, but they're giving it everything that they can."

The current number of people are that are hospitalized is 51, including six listed in intensive care.

"We haven't peaked yet from Omicron," said Vendegna. "It's very concerning because it may flood the healthcare system with people just by sheer volume."

With the county still in the vise grip of the pandemic the Public Health Department is urging the public to remain vigilant with everything they do.

“Now is the time to double-down on precautions, because Omicron is finding its way through every gap in protection,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer. “My best advice is to avoid gatherings, wear the best mask you can, and get vaccinated or boosted if you are eligible.”

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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