SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released the most recent statistics on COVID-19, including updated data and tiers for reducing COVID-19 in the state under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Eleven counties moved to a less restrictive tier, from Purple (widespread) to Red (substantial): Lake, Monterey, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, and Ventura. One county, San Mateo, moved from Red (substantial) to Orange (moderate). No counties moved to a more restrictive tier.

Eleven counties remain in the Purple (widespread) tier, 42 in the Red (substantial) tier, which is where San Luis Obispo remains this week, and four in the Orange (moderate) tier, and one is in the Yellow (minimal) tier.

In preparation for the end of the school year, CDPH announced that graduation and commencement ceremony organizers can begin to plan for events following the Outdoor Live Events with Assigned Seats and Controlled Mixing guidelines, which take effect on Apr. 1. More detailed guidance is forthcoming.

CDPH released an updated Youth and Adult Recreational Sports Questions & Answers on Tuesday to help athletes, parents, and sports organizations understand the state’s guidance that went into effect on Feb. 26.

As of Mar. 17, providers have reported administering a total of 13,037,557 vaccine doses statewide. The CDC reports that 16,813,070 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.

40,000 San Luis Obispo County residents can now get the COVID-19 vaccine, as the County expanded vaccine eligibility at the recommendation of the SLO County Vaccine Task Force.

Last week the County announced that workers in the Education and Childcare, Food and Agriculture, and Emergency Services sectors are now eligible, along with those with certain high-risk medical conditions or disabilities and caregivers providing in-home care to elderly or medically vulnerable residents.

“We are thrilled to now offer vaccines to these vulnerable residents who have waited patiently for their turn,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “This is an important milestone for our community. I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as they can to protect yourself and help end the pandemic.”

The County has enough vaccine supply to administer 5,500 first-doses this week at one of the County’s vaccines clinics in Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles, and San Luis Obispo. Eligible community members can sign up for their first dose through County’s Vaccine Appointment Registry and, as appointments become available, will be matched with an appointment. Eligible community members can also check with other local vaccine providers for appointments.

SLO County residents who are eligible based on their work will be asked to bring a form of identification and a recent pay stub to verify employment in their sector. Those who are eligible because they are medically vulnerable will be asked to self-attest to their specific high-risk medical condition or disability. The California Department of Public Health has identified these conditions based on the risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.

“As a County, we have been able to expand eligibility gradually based on risk,” said Dr. Borenstein. “I thank our local task force for their guidance as we continue to move forward so that our most vulnerable community members can get the vaccine.”

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

San Luis Obispo County opened applications for CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program on Tuesday, Mar. 16. According to the County, the program clears some accumulated rental debt, keeps the hardest-hit families in their homes, and will lead to a more equitable economic recovery.

The State program is for those who have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19, have past due rent or utilities, and have a household income at or less than $58,800 (which is 80 percent of the area median household income).

“Many renters and landlords are struggling right now,” said Lynn Compton, Chair of the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors. “This program provides much-needed relief to help people pay their bills and make ends meet.”

Landlords who participate in the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program can get reimbursed for 80 percent of an eligible renter’s unpaid rent between Apr. 1, 2020, and Mar. 31, if they agree to waive the remaining 20 percent of unpaid rent. 

Eligible renters whose landlords do not participate in the program may apply on their own and receive 25 percent of unpaid rent between Apr. 1, 2020, and Mar. 31. Paying this 25 percent by Jun. 30 can help keep tenants in their homes under the extended eviction protections in SB 91.

Eligible tenants can also receive future rent assistance equal to 25 percent of their monthly rent, as well as help paying future utility bills. Applicants will not be asked about their citizenship, nor will they be required to show proof of citizenship.

Tenants and landlords can determine eligibility and apply for funds by visiting RecoverSLO.org/RentRelief.

A CA COVID-19 Rent Relief call center has also been set up for eligibility questions or for application assistance and is available at (833)430-2122, 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

According to reports, San Luis Obispo County could move into the Orange Tier as soon as next week if the case rates do not increase. 

Getting through this together, Atascadero