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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Key takeaways from SLO County’s COVID-19 readiness report

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2020 at 6:53 PM

Today, San Luis Obispo County received the green light from the state to move deeper into Phase 2 of California’s COVID-19 reopening plan, which brings back dining in at restaurants and shopping in at retail stores under new safety guidelines. 
click to enlarge READY SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein addresses the media at a recent press briefing. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • READY SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein addresses the media at a recent press briefing.

The county earned this approval by submitting an “attestation of readiness” to the state. Authored by SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein, the attestation details the county’s response to the pandemic, describes the current state of cases and testing, and assures of the county’s ability to handle case surges in the future.

New Times
read through the attestation and identified some key takeaways:
  • SLO County and Dignity Health recently partnered to purchase a mass-testing machine produced by Hologic with the ability to process 500 tests per day and deliver results in a few hours, but the federal government “commandeered” the equipment. Now, “there is no date certain for delivery,” according to the attestation.
  • Over a recent 14-day period, SLO County had 42 new confirmed cases, or 14.8 cases per 100,000 residents. That number fell short of the state’s initial criteria of having no more than 10 cases per 100,000, but it meets the revised criteria of 25 cases per 100,000.
  • SLO County will soon have the capacity to test two people per 1,000 residents per day, which is higher than the state’s required 1.5 per 1,000 residents per day. About 2,500 tests are currently conducted each week, with a goal of reaching 4,000 tests per week. The recent addition of two state-sponsored test sites in Paso Robles and Grover Beach have helped boost capacity. Demand at those sites has consistently not hit their daily capacity of 264 patients.
  • An additional 1,000 tests per week will become available soon through a new mobile testing program. The mobile clinic will start in Cambria, stay for a few days, move to Los Osos, and then proceed to other to-be-determined locations.
  • The county plans to test 11 local wastewater treatment systems for COVID-19.
  • In the last 10 days, SLO County’s positive test rate is less than 1 percent. Nationally, it’s between 7 and 12 percent, according to the CDC.
  • There continues to be gaps in test data provided by private labs, resulting in incomplete local data. “We have had a challenge with some private labs with respect to consistent reporting of negative results,” the attestation reads. “One local lab has presented the greatest challenge. We will continue to work with that lab and the [state] Testing Task Force to try to assure complete reporting of all testing performed on SLO County residents.”
  • Currently, 14 county staff members are serving as contact tracers for residents who test positive for COVID-19. The county is prepared to increase that staffing to 42 if needed, with the help of county probation officers, county disaster service workers, and local volunteer medical reserve corps members.
  • When both COVID-19 and seasonal flu were at their peak, patients (not just with those diseases) occupied 88 percent of available SLO County hospital beds—the highest hospital occupancy rate of the crisis. Occupancy rates have averaged about 66 percent, and 22 percent for ICU beds.
  • In addition to the nearly 929 beds available at the alternative care center constructed at the Cal Poly Rec Center, SLO County hospitals have a surge capacity of 562 beds, or 140 percent of their current number of beds.
  • In the attestation section titled “relationship to surrounding counties,” Borenstein writes that “the main challenge for San Luis Obispo County will be beach tourism from the Central Valley counties like Kings and Kern.” ∆
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