The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department announced new criteria for lifting the current indoor mask mandate for the county.
While the indoor mask mandate hasn’t yet been lifted, the health department now plans to do so when the county meets two standards. San Luis Obispo County must maintain the moderate (yellow) transmission tier for 10 days, and County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein must determine that COVID-19 hospitalizations are low and total hospital capacity is stable enough to support the county.
The criteria is designed to reduce caseloads at local hospitals heading into winter, while also keeping the community and businesses open.
San Luis Obispo County is currently in the substantial (orange) tier. The current mask mandate went into effect Sept. 1 to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases. Since June 15, those who were not fully vaccinated have represented more than 78% of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the county.
A high number of coronavirus cases in the community lead to infections in children, who cannot yet be vaccinated. Borenstein said this has the “unfortunate impact of students missing in-person school instruction.”
“Our path forward is very clear and getting vaccinated is ultimately the safest and most effective way to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” Borenstein said.
Health officials credit increased rates of vaccination and masking among residents for the policy change.
“The COVID-19 case rate in SLO County is moving in the right direction and for that I thank the many residents and business owners who are actively complying with the indoor mask requirement and those who are making the decision to get vaccinated,” Borenstein said in a press release.
Residents are encouraged to get vaccinated at the closest public health clinic. The nearest clinic can be located by visiting myturn.ca.gov or by calling (833) 422-4255.