You are the owner of this article.
First case of COVID-19 reported in SLO County; closures, procedural changes continue

First case of COVID-19 reported in SLO County; closures, procedural changes continue

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported Saturday in San Luis Obispo County by the Public Health Department.

SLO County Public Health Department said the infected individual is a North County resident over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions who exhibited a fever, a cough and shortness of breath, said Dr. Penny Borenstein, county public health officer.

She said the individual is recovering in isolation at home until cleared by the County Public Health Department.

Borenstein said she believes the infection is likely a case of community transmission, and the individual is assisting the Public Health Department in contacting those who had been in close contact in recent days to see if testing and quarantine management is needed.

She said the department will notify the public immediately should the investigation indicate further action and precautions are necessary.

“We have expected to see cases of COVID-19 in our county and have been planning and preparing accordingly,” Borenstein said. “We are now encouraging the public to prepare for the likelihood of local community spread here as well, unrelated to this case, because that is what we have seen happen in other communities.”

She added that the county increased its testing capacity earlier in the week.

Borenstein commended the individual and the physician for taking the proper steps to reduce further transmission.

The individual called the doctor’s office in advance and was instructed to not enter the waiting room but to stay in the car, where the physician met the patient for a consultation and to collect a swab specimen.

Central Coast agencies and organizations are continuing to change procedures, cancel or postpone events and close facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent issuance of guidelines and public health orders.

So far, no cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Santa Barbara County, but officials are taking the steps to slow the transmission of the disease.

Here’s a brief look at some of the changes:

Although the Santa Maria Public Library will remain open, all programming has been canceled through the end of March, a city spokesman said.

The same is true for its branch Guadalupe, Orcutt, Los Alamos and Cuyama libraries.

Signs are also being posted at the libraries notifying patrons to observe the “social distancing” order from the Santa Barbara County public health officer for people to remain six feet apart.

The Goleta, Buellton, Solvang, Los Olivos and Santa Ynez libraries have been closed by the city of Goleta, which manages them, until the Santa Barbara County public health officer deems it’s safe for them to reopen.

Library patrons are being advised to instead use the online resources available to them through their Goleta Valley and Santa Ynez Valley library cards. More information is available by emailing the staff at

Santa Ynez Valley nursing homes have announced they are no longer allowing visitors, at least through the end of March, when the temporary policy will be reviewed for potential renewing.

Santa Barbara County Vintners announced member wineries are keeping their tasting rooms open but providing hand sanitizer, sanitizing their tasting rooms and advising customers to maintain the “social distancing” standard of six feet.

For wine lovers who prefer not to travel, some wineries are offering direct shipping specials online.

The organization has also postponed the Vintners Festival from its original May 2 date to Oct. 10 at Rancho Sisquoc Winery in the Santa Maria Valley. Those who have already purchased Vintners Visas or tickets but can’t attend on the new date can obtain refunds by emailing

Santa Ynez Valley Transit is running its buses on schedule and has issued hand sanitizer to employees, who are being directed to continue frequent hand washing.

SYV Transit also has extended the pretrip inspection time to allow all frequently touched surfaces like handrails and fareboxes to be wiped down with disinfecting wipes.

Employees and riders who feel sick are being advised to stay home, an SYV Transit spokeswoman said.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department has suspended in-person inmate visitation at the SLO County Jail until further notice, although video visitation is still available for inmates and their families.

The Sheriff's Office has negotiated with provider Homewav for reduced video visitation rates. For more information, contact Homewav at or 314-764-2872.

A sheriff’s spokesman said cleaning procedures at the jail have been intensified, and all arrestees are being screened for fever and respiratory symptoms by a nurse before they enter the facility.

The California Parks Department has canceled tours at Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, effective Monday.

Tours were conducted Saturday and Sunday for those who had advance reservations, although the evening tours were canceled and the number of people was reduced for Tour 4.

Although tours have been canceled, the Hearst Castle Visitor Center and food service will remain open as usual, a department spokesman said.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has temporarily suspended utility service shutoffs for for customers who haven’t paid their bills to assist those who have been affected by actions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The suspension, which applies to both residential and commercial customers, will remain in effect until further notice, a PG&E spokesman said.

The California Franchise Tax Board has extended the deadline to file income taxes until June 15 for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That includes partnerships and limited liability corporations whose tax returns were due March 15, individuals whose income tax returns are due April 15 and those making estimated quarterly tax payments due April 15.

An FTB spokesman said the deadline may be extended even more if the IRS grants a longer relief period.

This report was compiled by Mike Hodgson, associate editor for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. He can be reached at


Concerned about COVID-19?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

County Reporter/Associate Editor

Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News