13 cases now confirmed in SLO County • triple digits expected over coming weeks

Briefing the public on the latest developments of COVID-19 in the San Luis Obispo County on Thursday, County Administrative Officer Wade Horton and County Health Officer Penny Borenstein presented an additional six cases from yesterday’s announcement and gave clarifying statements on ‘shelter-at-home’ order.

As Numbers Rise

“We are looking closely at hospital surge capacity,” County Administrative Officer Wade Horton said. “We have 100 ventilators on order and 30 will be here.”

The County is working with the food bank to deliver food or medicine to seniors who do not have family members to help.

“This is a way for us to take care of those folks in our community that don’t have friends or family who can help them out,” Horton said.


SLO County now has 13 confirmed cases — three on the coast, five in the North County and five in the South County. One patient is 20 years old.

“We expect a doubling of cases in three to seven days. In the next few weeks, we will likely have cases in the triple digits,” County Health Officer Penny Borenstein said.

Call ahead for emergency medical appointments if feeling fever, cough, or other symptoms.

As the county sees more cases, more people will start to know someone who have tested positive. There is an incubation period that Borenstein said is usually a week before becoming contagious.

“It is not something in the air that by virtue of leaving your house puts you at risk,” Borenstein said. “Simply … stay away from people that could transmit the disease.”

The Recovery Process

The recovery process is producing information and evolving the approach by the County as information is available. Original cases were being tested every two days with the same lab test and cleared after coming up negative.

“There is a new way to allow people back into society,” Borenstein said. “At this point, 72 hours after no symptoms and at least seven days since the onset of illness would allow someone to be considered ‘cleared.'”

Where are the Sick?

For reasons of public safety and health, as well as privacy, the County will not be releasing more specific geographical information than “regional” levels such as “North County” or “South County.”

“We have decided not to go beyond a ‘region’ level,” Borenstein said. “For reasons of medical privacy and manage public panic, we would like to keep it to the regional level. Shandon for example is a very small community, where Paso Robles is larger.”

All 13 cases in SLO County are considered ‘fully recovered,’ according to Borenstein.

Education is an Evolving Process

Borenstein will conference tomorrow with several hundred physicians to discuss broad scope of protocols and procedures. What the evidence has produced is that children are actually not getting the disease.

“Children under the age of 19 are not getting the disease,” Borenstein said. “It is not only that they are asymptomatic, but It appears children are actually spared from getting the infection.”

It is the older, more vulnerable community members that are at risk.

“Do what you need to do to protect your grandparents,” Horton said. “We know this is a difficult time for everyone. We will re-evaluate this in the next days or weeks and we will lift this as soon as possible.”

Visitation to nursing homes or senior-living environments are not recommended, but families that are healthy should not avoid each other as a rule, according to the Public Health Department. Large crowds should be avoided, and possibly broken up by law enforcement.

What Does ‘Shelter-at-Home’ Mean?

 “Using the term shelter at home is to ask people to help slow the spread of infection and is an enhancement of social distancing,” says County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein, “It does not literally mean that people should not leave their homes for essential activities or fresh air and exercise.”

The Order is intended to limit activity, travel, and business functions to the most basic and essential needs. Social distancing requirements should be followed at all times.

“They are using the term ‘safer-at-home’ instead of shelter in place,” Borenstein said. “This whole thing is about social distancing. It is not about shuttering our elderly in their bedrooms and not giving them the opportunity to live life. People should go outside. They should go for walks, garden, do their landscaping. They just shouldn’t do it with strangers.”

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