"We’re dealing with a different pandemic at this moment in time,” officials say of Delta variant
County Public Health Officer Doctor Penny Borenstein urged residents in San Luis Obispo County to wear masks indoors at a COVID-19 briefing Aug. 18.
“At the end of the day, I’m powerless. I can issue mandates. I can try to work with our staff to make vaccines available, but it really is each individual looking into their heart and their soul and saying this isn’t a war among ourselves. It is a war with the virus,” Borenstein said.
Current state regulation mandates that all people within adult and senior care facilities, K-12 schools, childcare, emergency shelters, healthcare, correctional facilities and public transit must wear face coverings.
“I think if I could say one word about why things are going in the direction they're going, it's Delta,” Borenstein said.
Borenstein said the Delta variant is more infectious and has worse outcomes for people who are infected.
“Things are unfortunately going in a bad direction in our county,” Borenstein said.
She said the Delta variant has led to more than 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 in the first two weeks of August. This is compared to 150 cases in the entire month of July.
Thirty two people are currently in the hospital with eight people in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Borenstein said eight more people have died since the previous media briefing on July 29 and four more are pending final death certificates.
“These are 12 families who are suffering the ravages of this disease,” Borenstein said. “And what’s even more heartbreaking is this is completely unnecessary.”
Borenstein said the vaccine is almost universally protective to avoid hospitalization, being in the ICU or death.
“We’re dealing with a different pandemic at this moment in time,” Borenstein said.
At the county level, Borenstein said the majority of COVID-19 cases are the Delta variant and it follows closely with the trends at the state level.
“At this moment in time we are at 60%, just hair shy, of 60% of our entire eligible – age 12 and up county population – that have been fully vaccinated,” Borenstein said.
San Luis Obispo County is falling further behind the state. About 65.1% of all state-wide California residents have been fully vaccinated, according to Borenstein.
First and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available throughout the county including at public health clinics, pharmacies and mobile units.
Right now, Borenstein said third doses will be available for those who are severely immunocompromised, which are the majority of people who end up in the hospital as a result of getting COVID-19.
“Those individuals with immune compromise need to be given every opportunity to have a successful vaccination outcome,” Borenstein said.
People who are immunocompromised include those in active cancer treatment, someone with an organ transplant who is taking immunosuppressant drugs, people with a STEM cell transplant, people with HIV and others.
The third dose is recommended anytime after 28 days after a second dose.
San Luis Obispo County will start taking appointments on Monday, Aug. 23 and will offer them at the three brick and mortar county sites, but not at the mobile clinics. People can book an appointmnet on the My Turn website.
For more information on how to get a COVID-19 vaccine, visit the County Public Health website.