Community members aged 50 and older now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released the most recent statistics on COVID-19 in the State under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Blueprint Summary (as of Mar. 24)

  • 8 counties in the Purple (widespread) Tier
  • 39 counties in the Red (substantial) Tier, which is where SLO County remains 
  • 9 counties in Orange (moderate) Tier
  • 2 county in the Yellow (minimal) Tier

Statewide COVID-19 Data as of Today

  • California has 3,551,056 confirmed cases to date. Numbers may not represent true day-over-day change as reporting of test results can be delayed.
  • There were 1,955 newly recorded confirmed cases Tuesday.
  • The 7-day positivity rate is 1.9 percent.
  • There have been 52,630,376 tests conducted in California. This represents an increase of 116,641 during the prior 24-hour reporting period.
  • There have been 56,850 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
  • As of Mar. 24, providers have reported administering a total of 15,537,745 vaccine doses statewide. The CDC reports that 19,809,080 doses have been delivered to entities within the State. Numbers do not represent true day-to-day change as reporting may be delayed. For more vaccination data, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Data Dashboard.

San Luis Obispo County as of Mar. 24

Getting through this together, Atascadero
  • 20,309 total cases since March 2020
  • 6 new cases, including weekend numbers 
  • 216 active cases 
  • 9 cases in the hospital (3 in ICU) 
  • 19,837 recovered cases, at a 98 percent recovery rate
  • 253 deaths 0.012 percent death rate (difference being the 216 active cases)  

Tracking Variants

Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been identified globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most variants do not have a meaningful impact. For more information on the variants CDPH is currently monitoring visit cdph.ca.gov. 

On Friday, Mar. 17, the CDPH notified the County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency that a county resident tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19, also known as the U.K. variant.

This individual has completed their isolation period and is no longer infectious. County officials are investigating this case further, and no other cases of this variant have been identified in SLO County.

“We are so close to ending this pandemic, and we can get there with your help,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “Continue to wear your mask in public, stay physically distanced from those who don’t live with you, get tested for COVID-19, and get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you are eligible. These actions will continue to protect you from spreading the variants.”

To date, just over 100,000 people in SLO County have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and the risk of spread remains substantial here, keeping SLO County in the Red Tier of the State’s Reopening Plan. 

According to Borenstein, vaccines in the U.S. appear to remain effective against severe impacts of COVID-19, even against these variants. As more cases of the variant appear, additional information is being gathered. The CDC considers a variant “of concern” when there is evidence that it spreads more easily, causes more severe disease, and leads to increased hospitalizations and deaths. 

On Feb. 25, CDPH issued a Health Alert warning of increased identification of COVID-19 virus variants across the State, nation, and globe. It identified “variants of concern,” including B.1.1.7, B.1.135, and P.1.

On Mar. 17, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention further escalated the variants B.1.429 and B.1.427 from “variants of interest” to “variants of concern,” and both are prominent statewide. More than seven of these variant cases were identified in SLO County weeks ago before these variants were classified as variants of concern.

“Our community can make it through this pandemic,” said Dr. Borenstein. “It’s going to take the collective efforts of our central coast community to stop these variants from spreading. Mask up, keep your distance, get tested if you’ve been exposed, and get the vaccine when it’s your turn.”

On Monday, Mar. 22, health officials announced that all community members aged 50 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in SLO County.

“More people can now get the safe and effective vaccines that will help us end this pandemic,” Borenstein said. “Risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19 increases with age, and we are happy to begin vaccinating community members age 50 and older.”

The County Public Health Department has enough vaccine supply to administer 10,000 first doses this week and plans to have enough for at least 10,000 first doses next week as well. Other vaccine providers also have more vaccines and will open more appointments throughout the coming days and weeks.

“This vaccine is worth the wait, and we’re pleased that so many doses have been administered in SLO County,” said Dr. Borenstein. “If you are eligible, get vaccinated as soon as you can to protect yourself, your loved ones, and our community.”

Nearly 110,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in SLO County to date, thanks to increased vaccine supply from the State and federal supply to local pharmacies. The County Public Health Department has administered nearly 78,000 of those doses, and other vaccine providers have administered the rest. Last week, the County Public Health Department administered more than 9,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, following the Mar. 10 expansion of vaccine eligibility to certain frontline workers and residents at high risk for severe illness or death.

On Mar. 10, the County expanded eligibility to frontline workers in Education & Childcare, Food & Agriculture, and Emergency Services, as well as anyone 16 or older with certain high-risk medical conditions or disabilities. These groups remain eligible, but the County estimates that many have already received vaccine.

For assistance signing up for the County’s appointment registry, call the Phone Assistance Center at (805)543-2444 or (805)781-4280. 

SLO County Weekly COVID update by County Health Officer takes place on Wednesday at 3:15 p.m.