St. Patrick’s Day postponed due to temporary alcohol sales prohibition
In San Luis Obispo establishments will be prohibited from serving alcoholic beverages over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period. Beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, March 16 through 12:01 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, the executive order limits alcohol sales at onsite alcohol-serving establishments — including bars and restaurants.
The response is in prevention of the community spread of COVID-19, and the danger presented during the atmosphere and activities typically surrounding St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, especially in college towns like San Luis Obispo. Violation of the order is a misdemeanor.
“We need to recognize that this disease is pretty much spreading everywhere, and that includes our county too,” SLO County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said. “This is three of what Ive been saying all along will be many.”
Along with the protective action regarding bars and restaurants, the SLO County Public Health Department answered questions from the public with respect to the third local case of COVID-19 and resources and activities in the effort to prevent further spread.
“We are doing a contact investigation for every case,” Borenstein said. “We get a very thorough history where the positive COVID individuals have bean and where they have had face to face contact. We are issuing quarantine orders, and while those people are not sick we are keeping them out of the public.”
The healthcare system is expected to be tested in the coming weeks as the county faces uncertainty in levels of outbreak of COVID-19, and Borenstein spoke to calm the public and maintain order as the need for testing may increase at the local level. Hospitalized patients will be tested according to regulated parameters, but those outside the healthcare system are asked to follow protocols.
“If you are an outpatient and do not need healthcare, we ask that you comply with our request that if you do not need hospitalization that you determine with your healthcare provider if your symptoms are consistent with COVID,” Borenstein said, “then the healthcare provider needs to refer that person to us for testing.”
The number of tests available at a local level through the county are limited, but services are being made available through private labs, hospitals and universities.
“Our testing capacity continues to be a big concern,” Borenstein said. “We are at a capacity of 50, and when that capacity is outstripped … we are hopeful and believe that the private lab capacity is improving and in the coming day when we reach out capacity, they will be able to serve the need.”
Borenstein promised to continue updating the public daily on activities from their department, but confirmed the county cannot release specific information about cases of COVID-19, including what city the patient resides in.
“I’m well aware that the public and patients themselves share information, but we are under strict privacy rules,” Borenstein said.
She continued, stating that if there was a public health concern of community spread regarding a specific case, the rules surrounding privacy could change to adapt to ensure greater public safety.
“When we do our contact investigations we dive deeply into information and make a determination if there is a greater risk to the community,” Borenstein said, “if not, we notify those who were in contact with the person.”
County Administrative Officer Wade Horton related his coordination with local agencies and administrations to support.
“It is important for our community to help each other,” Horton said. “It is important for us to take care of our neighbors. I’m working closely with our seven city managers and the office of education. As a community we will address this and get through this. We have never seen anything like this, and hopefully we never see anything like this again.”
In response to a question of what supplies to get as the community prepares to weather the proverbial COVID-19 storm, Borenstein pleaded with the public to be reasonable.
“Be reasonable and rational and not hoard goods,” Borenstein said. “If you are in quarantine and can’t have someone make a store run for you, you might need a 14-day supply, but this is not the apocalypse, and we will get through this. In the meantime, we don’t want to hurt our community more than we need to by hoarding supplies.”