SLO Co. hospitals postponing surgeries amid COVID surge

Posted at 1:49 PM, Jan 25, 2022

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has prompted the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to meet remotely once again.

During Tuesday's meeting, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein updated the supervisors via Zoom on the current status of COVID-19 in the county.

With 4,844 new COVID-19 cases reported in SLO County just last week, Borenstein says that number is more than the previous two-month case count combined.

The county is also seeing a 14-day all-time high case average of 590, up from a case average of 34 two months ago, Borenstein said.

Ninety seven percent of the new cases are the omicron variant, according to Borenstein, adding that the other 3 percent are Delta.

"As our numbers suggest, we are far from seeing a decline in COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County and now is clearly not the time to let down your guard,” Borenstein said in a press release. “We urge our community members to stay home if you’re sick, get tested, and please wear a mask in indoor public spaces to protect yourself and others from this terrible and painful disease. Clearly, our best path out of this pandemic is to get fully vaccinated and boosted.“

Borenstein also says the case surge is forcing local hospitals to postpone some surgeries, things like heart and bypass surgeries, cancer care and joint replacements, due to the demand on the hospital system.

KSBY reached out to Tenet Health to see what types of postponements, if any, their local hospitals are seeing.

The hospital says the decision is up to the surgeons or physicians and is done on a case-by-case basis, but adds that no surgeries that are medically necessary are being postponed at this time.

Borenstein says their top priority right now is responding to outbreaks. There are currently 60 outbreaks reported in the county in skilled nursing, corrections and congregate facilities, which is up from nine in December.

There are currently 3,059 active COVID-19 cases in the county with 54 people hospitalized and 10 in the ICU.

Borenstein says the numbers do not represent others who are in the hospital with COVID-19 but were admitted for another reason.

She adds that there is still a backlog of about 2,000 cases that have yet to be added to the system despite adding staff.

The numbers also do not represent home tests.

To date, 389 deaths in the county have been attributed to COVID-19. Five new deaths were reported Tuesday in people ranging in age from 75-100.

According to figures from Public Health, between June 15, 2021 and Jan. 24, 2022, San Luis Obispo County residents who are not fully vaccinated made up 66.2% of cases, 78.8% of hospitalizations, and 76.1% of COVID-19 deaths.

Sixty-six percent of eligible SLO County residents are vaccinated as of January 18, and 45% have received a booster shot.

To schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination, visit For information on mobile and pop-up vaccine clinics in San Luis Obispo County, click here.

SLO County Public Health typically reports COVID-19 case data twice a week - on Tuesdays and Fridays

To learn more about San Luis Obispo County's coronavirus response, visit