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Coronavirus cases continue to rise in San Luis Obispo County

Posted at 11:08 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 02:08:53-04

There are 16 positive cases of the coronavirus, up from 13 on Thursday. Out of the 16 cases, seven are in north county, five in south county, three on the coast, and one now in the central San Luis Obispo area.

As the cases continue to increase nationwide, the same is true in San Luis Obispo County.

"We do expect to see these cases increase. I think those of us have been here from the beginning, it went from one to three to six to 13, to now 16. That's exactly what we expect," said Dr. Penny Borenstein, county health officer.

Out of the 16 cases, seven of them fall within the 19-64 age range, with most in this group having underlying health conditions or significant travel history. The other 9 cases are in the age group of 65 years and older.

After the first COVID-19 case was reported in the county less than a week ago, Friday's press conference gave us an update on the conditions of those infected.

"All of them to the best of our knowledge as of today, are doing well," said Dr. Borenstein.

Dr. Borenstein says she expects to see the doubling of cases every three to five days, but wants the public to remain calm even when the numbers start to grow because that means more testing is being done.

So far, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department's lab has completed 261 tests, and Dr. Borenstein says the county is in good shape for the next couple of days with test kits, but admits they are uncertain about the availability of them in the future.

Along with the potential for a lack of testing capabilities, the county is growing concerned over the lack of protective equipment such as masks, respirators, and gloves for local health care professionals.

During the press conference, Dr. Borenstein explained how COVID-19 is transmitted, clearing up confusion surrounding the disease.

"This is a disease that is spread by either having close or prolonged contact with someone who's infected or that a person with the illness directly coughs or sneezes on the person," she said.

She says asymptomatic carriers and airborne transmission are not common ways for the disease to be spread.

As the county heads into the first weekend under a shelter at home order, county officer Wade Horton says he hasn't heard any significant concerns and thinks the community is taking the necessary steps to protect one another.