County discourages hoarding of supplies, downplays transmission concerns

On Friday, San Luis Obispo County held the fourth of a series of daily updates on COVID-19 impact in the county. San Luis Obispo County Administrative Officer Wade Horton opened the conference to address general guidance and other personal needs of local residents.

Following the state order to shelter-at-home, confusion concerning specifics around what businesses were allowed to operate was clarified by Horton. The state order did not provide the thorough breakdown by industry that the County had previously released.

“We know there is some confusion about the governor’s order about how it applies to private businesses,” Horton said. “Until there is further guidance by the State, the County’s order with regard to essential services and essential businesses remains in effect.”

He also reiterated the positive status of grocery and pharmacy supply chains, and asked the public to refrain from purchasing large stocks of essential items.


“Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open,” Horton said. “We encourage you to purchase only what you need. We’ve checked in with the grocery community and the supply chain is in pretty good shape.”

On March 16, The New York Times reported that a spokesperson for a meat trade group affirmatively announced, “There is plenty of food in the country” and Horton assured the public that supplies are in good shape concerning provisioning for San Luis Obispo County.

“The challenge is that people are buying more than they need,” Horton said. “Let’s make sure there is enough for everyone, and let’s look out for our neighbors.”

“We understand how difficult this time is for the public,” Horton said. “We know there are those who no longer have a paycheck. I want to assure everybody that there will be no evictions in the County of San Luis Obispo for those impacted by the coronavirus or the shelter-at-home order.”

Those concerned about their ability to purchase food, the County has resources available to keep food on the table. Go to or call 805-543-2444.

SLO County Health Officer Penny Borenstein reported the number of confirmed cases has increased from 13 on Thursday, to 16 on Friday — three in the coast, one in central, seven in North County, five in South County. Borenstein delivered some general age information for the cases. Seven are non-senior adults, age 19 to 64, and most have underlying conditions and the rest have significant travel history. The remaining nine cases are 65 or older. All cases are currently in their own homes, isolated, while a couple are nearing criteria to be considered recovered.

“Yesterday, I talked about secondary — or contacts of contacts — not being of concern,” Borenstein said. “There is additional information I want to add to that because there is a lot of concern that most people are walking around with this disease and don’t know it and are spreading it.”

Borenstein addressed that, stating that asymptomatic transmission is minor if happening at all, and that airborne transmission is also limited, and that microscopic particles may linger in the air for just a few seconds.

“This is a disease that is spread by close, prolonged contact with someone who is infected,” Borenstein said, “and the greater the illness in that person, the more likely it is the illness will spread. Or if the person with the illness directly coughs on the person directly, or through handshaking or on a piece of your clothing and immediately touch your face or mouth.”

Public concerns over transmission continue to peak as adaptation to shelter-at-home takes place. A recent report indicated concern from UPS drivers about precautions not being sufficient to protect those delivering or receiving packages. Borenstein reported that concern of contracting COVID-19 from a delivered package is very low, but precautions can be taken.

“Surface transmission is a much less common way for transmission,” Borenstein said “That said, for vulnerable populations — those over 65 or have underlying conditions — if you want to go the extra mile and wipe down the surface, it doesn’t have to be a Lysol wipe. Even friction will remove the virus.”

The County will now update the public as to number of cases in SLO County at this website. There is also information about food and prescription assistance at that site.

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