The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department is asking residents to answer phone calls from COVID-19 contact tracers and avoid social gatherings as cases continue to rise, according to two press releases. 

Contact tracers are public health investigators who track each positive coronavirus case and identify people who may have been exposed.

County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said the Public Health Department cannot legally share residents’ personal information, including names, with other people or government agencies.

“If you have tested positive, we will call you and ask how you are doing, issue isolation orders, and help connect you with care and services, if needed,” Borenstein said in a press release

Borenstein said some residents who test positive for coronavirus do not answer the phone call or call back.  

If the resident cannot be reached by call or text, they will receive a letter in the mail from the County Public Health Department, according to a press release. The County Public Health Department will require the resident to isolate at home. 

“We are counting on people who recently got tested for COVID-19 to answer the phone and speak with one of our public health officials so that we can all slow the spread,” Borenstein said in the press release. 

Borenstein also said more coronavirus cases in San Luis Obispo County are attributed to members of different households gathering together. Borenstein said residents should avoid gatherings to protect friends and family from COVID-19.

“I know this is a difficult ask, but it is a key way we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 to keep [San Luis Obispo] County healthy, open and strong as this pandemic continues,” Borenstien said in a press release

Social gatherings include holiday gatherings, birthday parties, graduation parties, and other medium or small-sized gatherings, according to the press release.  

These social gatherings bring together people of different households for an extended period of time, are often hosted indoors and guests share food and beverages. This environment allows COVID-19 to quickly and easily spread, according to the press release

“Staying in touch and celebrating life events is still important,” Borenstein said. “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.”

In county hospitals, 40 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds are available and 90 percent of ventilators are available as of Saturday, August 1. There are also currently 17 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, five of which remain in intensive care. 

San Luis Obispo County has distributed 1,259,000 procedure masks, 394,200 gloves, 353,820 N-95 respirators, 32,280 face shields and 16,160 gowns to hospitals as of Saturday, August 1. 

To slow the spread of COVID-19, residents should wear a face covering in public, maintain six feet distance between people outside of their household, wash their hands frequently and avoid traveling outside of San Luis Obispo County, according to a press release.

There have been 15 total deaths due to COVID-19 in the county, according to County Public Health.

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