After two days of intense preparation against the spread of the novel coronavirus, including closures and cancellations, the disease arrived

The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department announced today that an individual in San Luis Obispo County tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This is the first confirmed case in San Luis Obispo County.

The individual is a North County resident, over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions who exhibited a fever, cough and shortness of breath. The individual is recovering in isolation at home until cleared by County Public Health.

County Public Health is currently investigating, but Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein believes this is likely a case of community transmission. The individual is assisting the Public Health Department in contacting those who had been in close contact in recent days to evaluate if testing and quarantine management is needed. The Department will notify the public immediately should the investigation indicate further action and precautions are necessary.

“We have expected to see cases of COVID-19 in our county and have been planning and preparing accordingly,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein. “We are now encouraging the public to prepare for the likelihood of local community spread here as well, unrelated to this case, because that is what we have seen happen in other communities.” The County increased local testing capacity earlier this week.

Dr. Borenstein commends the individual and the physician for the steps they took to reduce further transmission. The individual called their doctor’s office in advance and was instructed to stay in their car upon arrival and not enter the waiting room. The physician met the patient at their car to consult and collect a swab specimen. These are the recommended steps to limit further transmission to the public and to health care providers.

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“Our top priority is the health and safety of our community,” Dr. Borenstein said. “We appreciate our local health care providers for continuing to be vigilant by monitoring patients to help us identify potential COVID-19 cases.”

Yesterday, the Health Officer declared a public health emergency and the County Emergency Services Director also proclaimed a local emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local school closures went into effect yesterday as well, and public health experts recommended calls for cancelling or postponing certain types of events.

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Everyone should take simple steps to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses including COVID-19:

  • Remain calm;
  • Wash your hands with liquid soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available;
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Regularly clean surfaces touched by many people;
  • Stay home if you are sick;
  • Avoid others who are sick; and
  • Avoid large gatherings of people, especially if you are over the age of 60 and have health conditions such as lung or heart disease, diabetes, and a compromised immune system.

Public Health is working with partners in health care, education, business, law enforcement and others to prepare our community and to limit further spread.

Please visit ReadySLO.org for the latest public health updates and recommendations or call the Public Health information line at (805) 788-2903.

Keep informed with North County’s up-to-date COVID-19 page