News Briefs 9-22-2022

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

September 26, 2022

Cal Poly Earns 30th Consecutive Best in the West Ranking 

Cal Poly was named the best public, master’s-level university in the West for the 30th straight year in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges guidebook.

The 2023 guide, assessed an all-time high 1,500 U.S. bachelor’s degree-granting institutions on 17 measures of academic quality. It lists Cal Poly as No. 2 overall in the West — the same as last year — and as the region’s top-ranked public master’s-level university.

 In addition, Cal Poly was again named No. 1 in the West for Most Innovative Schools; several Cal Poly College of Engineering programs were ranked among the best in the nation for masters-level educational institutions; and the university was for the third straight year ranked as the top school in the West for veterans among public and private institutions that participate in federal initiatives helping veterans and active-duty service members pay for their degrees.

The Western regional rankings include public and private institutions in 15 states that provide “a full range of undergraduate and master’s-level programs but few doctoral programs.” (Universities that grant doctoral degrees, such as those in the University of California system, are listed in a separate category.)

More details on Cal Poly’s 2022 U.S. News rankings are available online at:

Pedestrian Safety is Every Month

With traffic deaths at crisis levels, particularly among people who walk and bike, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) released a statewide education campaign aimed at encouraging drivers to “Share the Road. Share the Responsibility.” to help reverse the deadly trend. 

Coinciding with California’s Pedestrian Safety Month, this year’s campaign will also feature messages geared toward the safety of bicyclists. The “Share the Road. Share the Responsibility” campaign first came out last September and features 10-second videos highlighting the benefits of safely sharing the road with all road users. In addition, shorter social media videos will add context to the relationship between higher vehicle speeds and a greater likelihood of serious injury or death for pedestrians or bicyclists.

Based on data projections from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), drivers struck and killed 7,485 people in 2021, or an average of 20 people every day – an 11.5% increase from 2020 and a 40-year high. In all, an estimated 42,915 people were killed in vehicle crashes throughout the country last year, including 4,258 deaths in California – nearly 10% of all traffic deaths in the U.S.

“We are losing people every day in California who walked or rode a bike, only to have their lives cut short,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “Every bicyclist and pedestrian should be confident they will reach their destination safely, and the OTS strives every day to make that a reality. Education is one of many important tools to reduce the number and seriousness of crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians, and I hope this campaign has a meaningful impact to improve safety.” 

The education campaign is part of comprehensive traffic safety measures the state is taking to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our roads as part of the “Safe System” Approach, which emphasizes safer street designs, safer vehicles, and safer people all working to make crashes, when they do happen, less severe.

The OTS and Caltrans have easy-to-follow tips for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to “share the road” and look out for one another. To view the PSAs and learn about ways to stay safe on the go, visit

Free Flue Shots 

It’s that time of year. Flu shots are widely available countywide, including special events on October 4.

Health officials are urging county residents to get protected before flu season takes hold locally. They are making it easy with free pop-up flu shot events on Tuesday, October 4 in Atascadero and Arroyo Grande.

“Nobody wants to be sick with the flu, especially with the added worry of COVID-19 circulating at the same time,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, county health officer. “Getting the flu is miserable and inconvenient, and it can be a very serious illness for some people. Getting a flu shot is a quick, simple step you can take to spare yourself from that ordeal. We’re making it as easy as possible with our free clinics on October 4.”

Two clinics will be available, both on October 4 from 3–6 p.m.:

• Arroyo Grande—Five Cities Fire Authority, Station 1, 140 Traffic Way in Arroyo Grande

• Atascadero—Colony Park Community Center, 5599 Traffic Way in Atascadero

Vaccines will be available at no cost for all attendees age two and older. There are no requirements related to insurance, income, residency, or immigration status: everyone is welcome. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. 

Flu Mist and high-dose flu vaccine will not be available; adults age 65+ who wish to receive high-dose flu vaccine can schedule an appointment at a Public Health clinic.

These one-day events are part of the Public Health Department’s drills to prepare for emergencies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic tested our capabilities in this area and I’m proud to say that as a community, we were able to get vaccine in arms as quickly as it arrived in SLO County,” said Dr. Borenstein. “Events like this help us practice and refine our process in collaboration with the Medical Reserve Corps and the city fire departments.” 

Getting the flu vaccine is especially important while COVID-19 continues to spread widely in the community. It helps protect against illness and inconvenience and also helps protect local hospital capacity. COVID-19 vaccines will not be available at these pop-up events but are widely available at no cost from pharmacies, health care providers, Public Health clinics and mobile clinics countywide.

To schedule an appointment for a flu shot or COVID-19 vaccine, contact your local pharmacy or health care provider or visit or Public Health phone support is available at (805) 781-5500 Monday – Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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