SAN LUIS OBISPO — San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein, on Monday, Nov. 16, issued new COVID-19 guidelines for safely celebrating Thanksgiving this year as COVID-19 spreads at a faster rate in SLO County.

“Despite this year’s challenges, we still have a lot to be thankful for here in SLO County — we live in a wonderful community, can enjoy outdoor activities year-round, and we seem to be seeing mostly mild or asymptomatic cases of the illness in our county at this time,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “But we can’t take all of this for granted. Keep those around you safe. Don’t give in to pandemic fatigue. Stay positive and do what you can to reduce the risk to you and those you love the most by celebrating Thanksgiving a bit differently this year.”

Local health officials recommend following the State’s COVID-19 Private Gathering Guidelines, which specifies no more than three households gathering (the same three, not different groups each time) as well as events not lasting more than two hours. Remember, gatherings are most likely to spread COVID-19 and spikes of infection are possible even in small gatherings and even among close relatives.

Thanksgiving in past years has been part holiday and part family and friend reunion. It has also historically been one of the most popular travel days of the year — all of which lead public health experts to be concerned about how holiday celebrations could lead to a spike in cases. The local guidance highlights travel precautions and includes the “harm reduction” approach taken by the California Department of Public Health.

COVID-19 infections in SLO County typically surge two to three weeks following holidays. Additionally, even small family and friend gatherings have continued to fuel the virus’s transmission locally and nationwide.

The County urges residents who choose to gather to do so responsibly by keeping social gatherings brief, outside, small and symptom-free. Also, take necessary precautions during the gathering, including keeping your distance, washing your hands and sanitizing, and wearing a face covering.

​​​​For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at 805-788-2903. A staffed phone assistance center at 805-543-2444 is available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist with COVID-19 questions.