SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- COVID-19 related metrics are improving in San Luis Obispo County, bringing optimism to a public that's grown weary of the now two-year long pandemic.
However, at the same time, the Public Health Department is still warning residents the pandemic isn't over and now is not the time to let up in the fight against the virus.
"I think a lot of people think we're done with Covid and I'm not convinced at this point that it is done with us," said San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein.
According to the latest COVID-19-related data released by the county last week, most metrics are heading in a very positive direction.
Since the previous official report two weeks ago, there has been 147 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the county, bringing the 14-day average to 27, down from 207 one month ago.
Borenstein said there are currently four people hospitalized for severe COVID-19, down from 67 at the peak of the surge in January.
However, Borenstein points out, the improving numbers may not actually be a true reflection of where the virus stands in the county.
"Our case counts are probably higher than we're able to report," said Borenstein. "Even though we ask people to actually report home positive tests to us, we believe that quite a large majority of people don't do that, and so our case counts are probably significantly higher than what we're reporting at this time."
Also concerning for health officials are COVID-19-related deaths, which continue to measure at a high rate, including 10 reported in the last county release.
"To some extent, it reflects a lag that we've described that often comes many weeks after the cases increase, but also some of these deaths actually reflect previous deaths that are just getting into our system now, so that's part of the issue," said Borenstein. "We also are increasingly seeing a lot people who have died at home who have a home test positive, and it takes a while longer to get that information."
Borenstein encouraged the public to remain vigilant in their efforts, including mask wearing when appropriate, as well as observing all tried and true health measures that have been recommended over the past two years.
"I want to be done with this pandemic as much as anybody in the county, but I think it's still a wait and see," said Borenstein. "People should feel free to go about their lives and do things that give them joy, but still remember everything that we've learned in the past two years related to this pandemic and how to control it."