There are now 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus in San Luis Obispo County, the San Luis Obispo Public Health Department announced Friday, March 20. 

Three of the reported cases are on the coast, seven in North County, one in Central San Luis Obispo and five in South County, Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said. 

Seven of the patients are between 19 and 64 years old, most with underlying health conditions or recent travel to a COVID-19 hotspot. Nine of the patients are 65-years-old or older, according to Borenstein.

Two of the patients are close to recovery. To be released from isolation, a patient who has been infected with coronavirus needs to have been in isolation for at least seven days, and been without a fever and significant respiratory symptoms for 24 hours. The patient is allowed to be released with a cough, Borenstein said.

When released from isolation, the individual must still adhere to the shelter in place order. 


WestPac Lab, a private lab on the Central Coast, has been sending samples to their national testing center to help San Luis Obispo’s public lab identify cases in the community. WestPac Lab has performed 282 tests, and identified seven cases of coronavirus in San Luis Obispo. The County Public Health lab has performed 261 tests and identified nine cases of coronavirus. 

The county has enough testing kits to perform tests for the next couple of days, but is concerned with test availability for the “long haul,” Borenstein said. 

Testing by County Public Health is being done in their parking lot by appointment only. Borenstein does not expect drive-through testing to be offered by the county due to their lab equipment restrictions.

Borenstein said she expects to see the number of coronavirus cases double in San Luis Obispo County every three to five days. 

“It is good news if we can get more testing out there and more people identified and more people committed to staying at home with their illness,” Borenstein said. “We will have a better picture locally of what’s going on in our community.”

How COVID-19 spreads 

The virus spreads primarily through direct contact with an infected person, Borenstein said. 

For example, if you shake the hand of an infected person and touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you are likely to get infected.

The more severe a person’s symptoms are, the more contagious they are. 

It is unlikely that a person will spread the virus when they don’t have symptoms, Borenstein said. 

The virus also does not spread through the air – it does not travel through air vents or linger in the air after an infected person has left the room, Borenstein said. 

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