Stunted growth in confirmed cases reflects effort to flatten the curve

As San Luis Obispo County comes together by staying apart, the number of confirmed cases increases at a slower pace than the instances of fully recovered patients. Overnight, from Saturday to Sunday, the number of cases of COVID-19 rose from 67 to 71, while those fully recovered jumped dramatically, from 13 to 24.

SLO County Health Officer Penny Borenstein called the growth in number a “modest increase day-over-day.”

By Tuesday, the number of recovered cases reached 30 and confirmed cases increased to 80. Like more dramatic statistics around the world, the statistics in SLO County are not reflective of the overall picture of health in the area. The number of confirmed tests are a result of testing — the spread of the novel coronavirus outpaces the ability for healthcare providers to return test results, and statistics remain skewed until more results are made available.

What we do know is the number of confirmed cases will continue to rise, mild cases may go unreported or untested, and the number of recovered people will outpace the number of deaths.

To date, San Luis Obispo County has not had any reported deaths in connection to COVID-19.

COVID-10 stands for COronaVIrus Disease of 2019. Coronavirus is the virus, and COVID-19 is the disease it causes in its victims.

Conflicting reports reveal the learning curve that challenges health experts in connection to COVID-19. How it can spread, how long it can live on a surface, and how dangerous it is to people of all ages are topics that continue to produce new information, but with more than 825,000 confirmed cases, more than 41,000 deaths, and more than 175,000 recovered worldwide (according to Johns Hopkins University), some trends are tracking true. Elderly people have a higher risk of death, as do people with “underlying conditions.” Younger people are less likely to become infected, and when they do, they are less likely to have severe symptoms if they show signs at all. That does not mean they are immune, as multiple cases of children under the age of 18 in SLO County were confirmed in the past 10 days.

In SLO County, the leading age demographic for confirmed cases is people over the age of 50, with 43 cases. Generally, it is understood to be a result of the age group being more likely to show symptoms and, therefore, more likely to be tested.

The 18 to 49 age group is not far behind in confirmed cases, with 34.

The number of recovered cases in SLO County continue to rise, but the County’s Public Health Department (PHD) continues to prepare for the healthcare system to become overwhelmed. The number of hospitalizations rose to 10 on Tuesday, from seven the day before, and two were in the ICU.

Cal Poly’s Recreation Center is under conversion into an alternate hospital site for the county, planned for use by next week with 400 to 700 beds. Volunteer medical and administrative professionals have pledged their time to assist as the peak of the local coronavirus infection is expected over the next 30 to 45 days.

As of Tuesday, Paso Robles held the highest count of any city in the county, with 21. Followed by Atascadero with 14, and Arroyo Grande with 12.

As agencies tally numbers, the accuracy of COVID-19 statistics inches closer to the truth. A recent report by Newsweek suggested that the death rate — the ratio of those who die from COVID-19 complications over the total of confirmed cases — might be much lower than initially expected. The lowering of the death rate is a result of more testing and better treatment of confirmed cases.

Coronavirus spread from surrounding areas is still a concern. Still, shelter-at-home and physical distancing efforts are part of the solution as local officials work to flatten the curve and keep hospital resources available to those in urgent need.

“I appreciate those who are changing the way they do business,” SLO County Emergency Services Officer Wade Horton said. “Shops that are moving online, restaurants that changed to delivery, and others who are showing entrepreneurial spirit.”

The County and the State have issued orders, and those orders continue to constrict business-as-usual as defense against the spread of COVID-19. Enforcement of observation of shelter-at-home orders and nonessential business closures are becoming more strict around the county.

“Food, medication, and cleaning supplies are essential,” Horton said. “It is critical we reduce nonessential retail storefronts where people gather … we are doing this to save lives. We all have people in our lives over 65.”

More information from the County can be found at readyslo.org.

The Atascadero News and The Paso Robles Press host a comprehensive page with links to important local news and information regarding COVID-19. Bookmark pasoroblespress.com/covid-19.

Getting through this together, Atascadero