File Photo | Mustang News

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department announced that more than 500 San Luis Obispo County residents have died from COVID-19, according to a May 18 press release

“We certainly never wanted to see our death count get as high as it has in SLO County,” council member Michelle Shoresman wrote in an email to Mustang News.  “It represents a tragic loss of life for so many, that did not need to happen.”

In San Luis Obispo County there have been 54,600 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 501 deaths, according to data from the San Luis Obispo County website. 

COVID-19 cases are continuing to increase in SLO County as the BA.2. 12.1 variant continues to spread. Currently, 353 new cases have been reported which brings the 14-day average to 46, according to the press release. This is up by 38 cases in the past week compared to 649 at the peak of the most recent surge, according to the press release. 

SLO County has seen 17 outbreaks, which have mainly occurred in congregate living facilities, according to Shoresman. County Public Health teams have responded to these outbreaks by working with these facilities throughout the pandemic on testing staff and clients and providing instruction and other technical assistance on how to manage isolation and quarantine, according to Shoresman. 

The Public Health Department continues to advise people to get vaccinated and follow up with a booster shot if they have not already. 

“The vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself from the worst impacts of this virus,” Shoresman said. “So, it is never too late to get vaccinated.”

Vaccines – including boosters – are available at no charge for everyone aged five and older in the county at pharmacies, some doctors’ offices and Public Health clinics. COVID-19 Test to Treat sites – which offer testing, on-the-spot medical consultation and treatment – have expanded to 12 locations countywide. Treatment is also available by prescription at pharmacies across SLO county.