SAN LUIS OBISPO — The County of San Luis Obispo reports that the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago in March reaches 115. 

The County reported that this milestone comes less than two weeks after the winter holiday season. 

“This virus has claimed more than 100 local lives,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “Those are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, children and grandparents who were not ready to die and whose deaths were, in fact, preventable.”

There is no doubt that the pandemic has brought hardship and despair to families, hospitals, and health care workers who take care of those that are ill. Remaining diligent to social distancing, washing your hands, and wearing a mask will continue to help “slow the spread,” according to health officials. 


The month of December brought the highest record of active SLO County cases at 4,806. December 2020 also reported the highest number of deaths during the pandemic, when the County confirmed 44 deaths involving COVID-19. According to County health officials, they are awaiting confirmation that an additional 28 individuals have died of COVID-19 related illnesses but have not yet confirmed whether COVID-19 in fact caused those deaths.

“This disease is not leaving our community unscathed,” said Wade Horton, County Administrative Officer. “The virus continues to take a toll on loved, vulnerable members of San Luis Obispo County.”

In a Press Release on Jan. 5 from Horton and Dr. Borenstein, it states that “COVID-19 is now the no. 1 cause of death not only in the U.S. but in our county as well.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), updated on Dec. 23, the leading cause of death in the United States was heart disease, with deaths reaching almost 600k in 2020, the second being cancer at 523,775 and COVID-19 following at 300,482. Which makes it the leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer, according to the report. 

According to that same report, Influenza and pneumonia dropped on the list in 2020 from years prior to ninth after stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. 

With active COVID-19 cases currently at 3180 as of Jan. 12, County Health Officials remind the community that the “surge” continues to put a strain on local hospital ICU capacity. 

“To our community members: Lives are in your hands,” said Dr. Borenstein. “We urge you at this time to stay home if you are sick, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay at least six feet apart, and please only gather with members of your household.”

For more information, visit or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at (805)788-2903. 

Live Press Briefings are held Wednesdays at 3:15 p.m. 

Video recordings of the press briefings with both English and Spanish subtitles are available on the SLO County YouTube Channel