Credit: Shae Ashamalla | Mustang News

San Luis Obispo County residents will once again have to wear face masks in all public indoor settings as of Tuesday night.

Director of Public Health Penny Borenstein announced at a briefing Tuesday afternoon that a mask mandate is a proven and effective way to bring down cases, as San Luis Obispo County has faced a coronavirus surge over the last month.

Most concerning is the degree to which the health care system has become exhausted once again: 67 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday, 20 of whom are in the intensive care unit (ICU), Borenstein said.

“These numbers supersede anything that we have seen in this pandemic, including in our winter surge,” Borenstein said. “Total number of hospitalizations, total number of individuals in intensive care units are the highest they have ever been in this COVID pandemic.” 

In August, over 3,500 people tested positive for the virus — over five times more than in July when there were 699 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Previously in June, about 160 people tested positive for the virus in the county.

Borenstein said the county’s Department of Public Health is investigating close to 90 outbreaks, which were found in schools, long-term living care facilities and businesses.

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