COVID-19 cases shot up over the weekend and the SLO County Public Health Department is asking all residents to avoid social gatherings.

The total cases on Monday, July 27 were 1600, 144 more than reported on Friday, July 24.

“More cases in SLO County are tied to members of several different households getting together with others through parties, celebrations, and other in-person social gatherings,” said County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein in a press release. “Protect your friends and family by avoiding gatherings. I know this is a difficult ask, but it is a key way we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 to keep SLO County healthy, open and strong as this pandemic continues.”

Investigations have identified cases spread between different households at holiday gatherings, birthday parties, graduation parties, and other medium or small-sized get-togethers, officials said. The nature of these gatherings, which often involves people from multiple households coming together for a prolonged time and are frequently held indoors or with shared food and beverages, creates an environment where COVID-19 can easily and quickly spread.

“Nobody wants to infect loved ones, but it’s happening in SLO County. We each have the ability to stop it and slow the spread of this disease,” said Dr. Borenstein. “Staying in touch and celebrating life events is still important. But now is not the time to gather in person, especially if you are or someone you know is particularly vulnerable to serious COVID-19 illness.”

Two more deaths were reported on July 28 bringing the total to 11. The individuals were vulnerable to serious COVID-19 illness because they were in their 80s with underlying health conditions. Both lived at Vineyard Hills Health Center, a skilled nursing facility in Templeton that is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 among residents and staff. Three residents and one former resident of the facility have died due to COVID-19 since the outbreak began.

The numbers as of July 28: 1,689 confirmed cases, 1,261 recovered, 404 home, 13 hospitalized (4 in ICU) and 11 deaths.