Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise and further restrictions could be coming. As of November 30 hospitalizations and ICU cases are up dramatically in the State. In Southern California, ICU beds are about 75% occupied — projections show them reaching or exceeding capacity by Dec. 24, although local hospital and ICU capacity remains good, according to District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson.
During a press conference on Monday Governor Gavin Newsom said he is considering reinstating a stay at home order for most counties throughout the state in the Purple Tier. SLO County is one of the 51 of California’s 58 counties in the most restrictive ranking.
“As a result,” Gibson said on social media, “I understand the state is considering significant actions — whether those actions will be adjusted to fit local conditions are a big concern of counties all over the state.”
Citing an “unprecedented, rapid rise” in COVID-19 cases, California’s Acting State Public Health Officer, Dr. Erica Pan of the California Department of Public Health put nearly the entire state under a nighttime curfew limiting people’s movements from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day for a month.
Dr. Pan issued her edict Nov. 19, terming it a “limited Stay at Home Order.”
“As the State Public Health Officer,” Dr. Pan said in a news release, “I am issuing a Limited Stay at Home order, effective in counties under Tier One [Purple] of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, requiring that all gatherings with members of other households and all activities conducted outside the residence, lodging, or temporary accommodation with members of other households cease between 10 p.m. Pacific standard time [PST] and 5 a.m. PST, except for those activities associated with the operation, maintenance, or usage of critical infrastructure or required by law.
“This order does not apply to persons experiencing homelessness. Nothing in this order prevents any number of persons from the same household from leaving their residence, lodging, or temporary accommodation, as long as they do not engage in any interaction with [or otherwise gather with] any number of persons from any other household, except as specifically permitted herein.”
Curfew Ends Dec. 21
The curfew went into effect Nov. 21 and runs through Dec. 21 and is in effect so long as a county is in the State’s Tier One — Purple lockdowns.
“The virus,” Gov. Newsom said, “is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm. It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”
Gov. Newsom was in quarantine himself after he claimed his children were exposed to a highway patrol officer who tested positive for COVID-19.
The CHP provides personal protection for the State’s First Family.
This came just a few days after Newsom, his family and numerous others were filmed having a big dinner party at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa, while breaking all of the pandemic orders and restrictions on mask wearing and social distancing that he’s instituted on everyone in the state.
Though Newsom apologized, his scofflaw attitude of the rules has landed him in hot water, even as a petition drive to recall and remove him from office gains momentum.
On Nov. 23, Gov. Newsom and the State Health Department placed 94% of the state’s population under the Purple Tier, which has the strictest restrictions of the four categories under the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.”
The curfew applies to San Luis Obispo County, which dropped into the Purple Tier after its case numbers jumped since the start of November.
Facemasks Ordered Worn
With this stepped-up campaign to fight the virus, the State is also ordering everyone to wear a facemask, “whenever outside their homes.”
California, Oregon and Washington, also issued travel advisories, requiring anyone who enters their three states to “self-quarantine” to slow the spread of the virus.
This travel ban coincided with guidelines being issued for how to celebrate Thanksgiving that discouraged gathering with anyone outside the immediate household on the day traditionally celebrated by gathering with family and loved ones to give thanks and share a hearty meal.
Dr. Pan acknowledged the difficult changes they were asking of free people. “We are asking Californians to change their personal behaviors to stop the surge,” she said. “We must be strong together and make tough decisions to stay socially connected but physically distanced during this critical time. Letting our guard down could put thousands of lives in danger and cripple our health care system.”
SLO’s Numbers Moderate
Though San Luis Obispo dropped into the Purple Tier, the numbers here continue to be relatively moderate, though statistically speaking are high under the State’s rules.
As of Nov. 30, SLO County had 890 active cases of COVID-19, according to information available at: www.emergencyslo.org/en/covid19.aspx. The County added 172 cases from Nov. 25-27. COVID-19 deaths now stand at 38 since the pandemic started last April.
The County’s total number of cases since April was at 6,311 with 5,381people already recovered.
There were 7 people in the hospital occupying some of the 369 available hospital beds. One person was in the intensive care unit, with 53 ICU beds available.
Statewide, California was up to 1,212,605 cases in a population of 39.5 million people; with 13,295,605 in the U.S. (328.2 million population); and 63,050,455 cases worldwide (7.8 billion pop.).
Morro Bay has now reached 103 cases since April. Cayucos is up to 25, Cambria 42 and Los Osos was at 114.
Paso Robles at 1,542 and SLO at 1,492 cases far outnumber the rest of SLO County’s numbers.
Jail Inmates Test Positive
Inmates at the County Jail continue to test positive for COVID, though the County Sheriff’s Department has done a remarkable job of keeping it out of their facilities.
On Oct. 31, the Sheriff’s Office announced its sixth inmate had tested positive and placed him under quarantine. The inmate was “asymptomatic” meaning he showed no symptoms of the disease.
COVID-19 symptoms are: fever or chills, a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
Other inmates who were exposed to the sick guy were also quarantined. It was the first COVID-19 case in the jail since Sept. 29. But the next one came quicker but won’t be infecting anyone else in jail, as he was immediately released.
That seventh COVID-19 positive inmate was booked Nov. 9 and was only in custody for 90 minutes, during which time he was tested. He too was asymptomatic at the time, according to Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla.
When his test came back positive on Nov. 10 Cipolla said the County Health Department tracked him down with the bad news and sent him to a doctor. Cipolla said three other inmates who had contact with the man were quarantined.
COVID-19 cases at County Jail continue to be light, as three patrol deputies, five correctional deputies and now seven inmates have tested positive for the virus. The Sheriff is changing its PR procedures.
“Going forward,” Cipolla said, “the Sheriff’s Office will amend its procedure for release of information regarding Jail COVID cases: a press release will be generated for any outbreak at the Jail, which is defined by the California Department of Public Health as three or more cases that are believed to be linked.”
The County has developed a robust testing program and now has the capability to test anyone that’s been exposed, and not just those with symptoms.
Priority groups for testing include all local healthcare workers, first responders and emergency workers, and higher risk people including seniors and those with underlying conditions.
The County continues to have a testing site at the Morro Bay Vet’s Hall, 209 Surf St. The site is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and you must make an appointment by calling 1-888-634-1123.
Urgent Care is Morro Bay, located at 783 Quintana Rd., also does COVID testing by appointment. Call (805) 771-0180 for an appointment.
For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, see: ReadySLO.org or call the Public Health Information Line at (805) 788-2903. A staffed phone assistance center at (805) 543-2444 is available Mondays-Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.