Coronavirus on the Central Coast archive

Mar 23, 2020

MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2020

  • San Luis Obispo County won’t be releasing it’s plan to reopen the economy until Friday, May 1, said administrative and health officials at Monday's afternoon briefing. The county’s health officer emphasized that no matter how much SLO County residents and officials want to move forward—or not—on’s a statewide decision.
  • Meanwhile, Santa Barbara County has 473 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 322 of which have recovered. Seven people have died of the virus in the county. On Friday, SB County announced it was allowing private and public golf courses and botanical gardens to reopen, along with allowing faith-based institutions to hold outdoor services. That means families remaining in their cars, parked at least six feet apart, according to county officials.


  • Despite a nationwide NBC Today show segment this morning featuring San Luis Obispo County, reporting the county told some sit-down restaurants they could be open by May 1, that's untrue, say county officials. A few hours after the broadcast, county's public health department sent out a statement, asserting that no definite date is confirmed—just that a reopening plan is in the works, ready to go for when the statewide stay-at-home orders are lifted.  


  • Governor Newsom announced today an effort to bring much wider testing to all areas of California, an important step towards reopening the state and relaxing stay-at-home orders. 
  • At today's briefing, the county's health officer said places of worship are free to hold services in their parking lots. Fabric stores and drive-in movie theaters can open back up, and janitorial businesses like house cleaners have a green light to restart. 

MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2020

  • SLO County health officer Penny Borenstein specified four business areas free to restart now. All construction is resuming, with building permits being issued. Pet grooming businesses, both mobile and in-house, are now considered essential services by the county's animal services director. Borenstein also says non-emergent surgeries and outpatient practice are resuming, and she clarified that recreational fishing activities continue to be allowed under the stay at home closures. 


  • The state announced more efforts aimed at helping California's most vulnerable workers who continue to work in the food industry—people who grow, pick, pack, deliver, cook, serve and sell our food—as essential workers. The governor said today he signed a statewide executive order that allows two additional paid weeks of sick leave for those food industry workers who have contracted COVID-19, been exposed to it or have had to stay home due to shelter-at-home orders. "We don't want you going to work sick," said Newsom. 


  • California is providing economic relief to those who are undocumented, but continue to work in the fields, at grocery stores, etc. Governor Newsom issued an executive order today to set aside $75 million in a special fund to distribute to undocumented residents through the Disaster Relief Fund. Starting next month, about 150,000 undocumented adults in California will receive a one-time check of $500 per person. According to the governor's office, "the state’s Disaster Relief Fund will be dispersed through a community-based model of regional nonprofits with expertise and experience serving undocumented communities." 
  • From the governor's office: "El Gobernador anunció una ayuda sin precedentes de $125 millones en asistencia por desastre para los trabajadores californianos. La primera en la nación, las asociaciones público-privadas proporcionarán ayuda financiera a los inmigrantes indocumentados afectados por el COVID-19. California proporcionará $75 millones en asistencia en casos de desastre y sus aliados filantrópicos se han comprometido a recaudar los $50 millones adicionales. Los $75 millones del Fondo para Asistencia por Desastre apoyarán a los californianos indocumentados impactados por COVID-19 y que no son elegibles para los beneficios del Seguro de Desempleo y asistencia por desastre, incluyendo la ley CARES Act, debido a su estatus migratorio. Aproximadamente 150,000 adultos indocumentados californianos recibirán el beneficio de un pago único en efectivo de $500 por adulto con un tope de $1,000 por familia para lidiar con las necesidades específicas que surjan por la pandemia de COVID-19. Las personas pueden solicitar el apoyo a partir del siguiente mes.
  • A network of private foundations is pitching in another $50 million to add to the amount distributed as direct financial assistance. 


  • The Santa Barbara Public Library activated over 6,000 Student Success Library Cards for students of Santa Barbara Unified School District this week. The students' school IDs work to access the library's online resources. 

FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2020

  • The City of San Luis Obispo has launched a new resource to connect community members with local businesses offering online shopping. The SLO Virtual Shopping Map showcases safe, online shopping options offered by SLO businesses.
  • Beginning this week, households in SLO, Santa Barbara and Monterey counties who have not responded to the 2020 Census will receive paper questionnaires in the mail. An average of about half of Central Coast households have filled out the census so far. Residents can self-respond online at or by calling toll free at (844) 330-2020. Web pages and guides are available in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, as well as guides in braille and large print. According to the Census Bureau, the tentative plan, depending on local and state health officer orders, is for census workers to begin home visits to non-responding households on May 28.


  • The United Way of San Luis Obispo County is partnering with FamilyWize to coordinate home delivery of prescriptions and lower the cost. Call 800-222-2818 for more information.
  • Paso Robles is asking residents and businesses to take an anonymous online survey, so the city can use the data to pinpoint relief effort. The survey should take about 5 minutes and can found here.


  • Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, French Hospital Medical Center and Marian Regional Medical Center—all Dignity Health Central Coast hospitals—have launched informational hotline numbers in both English (805) 332-8276 and Spanish (805) 614-5758.
  • A new website——has been set up to centralize and simplify access to economic relief resources region-wide. According to organizers, it's being developed by local governments, chambers of commerce, Visit SLO CAL, the Economic Vitality Corporation, higher education, local workforce development boards, and local businesses. 


  • Almost all governmental meetings—city councils, board of supervisors, etc—are now being held virtually. Today is the first time Goleta will hold its city council meeeting that way—starting at 5:30, the meeting will be broadcast via Channel 19 and the city's website, but all council members, city staff, city attorney, city manager and the mayor will all join in remotely. 
  • For today's (and future) Paso Robles city council meeting, a call-in number is available for council and planning commission meetings throughout the stay-at-home orders. Residents can call 888-867-1694 and will be able to provide public comment via phone or submit written public comments via email to prior to 6:30 p.m. start time.
  • The Central Coast State Park Association and CA State Parks are offering a 'Virtual Mind Walk Lecture Series.' State park staff and volunteer docents are hosting webinars for the public. Coming on Friday, April 10 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., first up will be 'Southern Sea Otter Basics.' According to the CCSPA, "Heather Barrett, science communication director and research scientist for Sea Otter Savvy, will clarify sea otter fact from fiction [and] this presentation focuses on reviewing southern sea otter life history, critical species information, and how best to portray this information to an audience." Other Friday presentations will continue the focus on sea otters and sharks. State Parks' Robyn Chase will answer questions and help people log in; she can be reached at


  • The city of Lompoc says there is help available for residents struggling to pay utility bills at this time. The Community Action Commission (CAC) offers the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) throughout the year. For those who qualify, the CAC will make a one-time payment to a customer’s utility account, and the customer can reapply each year. 
  • The Santa Barbara County public health department reports an additional 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county Monday, bringing the total to 192 confirmed cases, including thirty-seven health care workers.
  • California's insurance commissioner issued a notice to remind insurance companies, agents, and employers that California law requires the payment of workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers regardless of their immigration status. This includes workers engaged in front-line occupations such as health care, emergency services, food production, sales, and delivery, among others. 

WEEKEND, APRIL 4 & 5, 2020

  • San Luis Obispo County reported its first death from COVID-19; a North County resident in their 80s who had underlying health conditions. According to the SLO County public health department,  to date, 93 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in SLO County; 65 have recovered; 22 are currently recovering at home and five are currently hospitalized.
  • It's now easier to get child care if you are an essential worker. The governor signed an executive order that prioritizes essential workers, including health care professionals, emergency response personnel, law enforcement, and grocery workers and makes it easier for them to access to state-subsidized child care programs.
  • Santa Barbara County is also reporting one death so far from COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, of 168 confirmed cases in Santa Barbara County, 101 are recovering at home, 26 are recovering in a hospital—17 of which are in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 38 have fully recovered, and two are pending an update.


  • Governor Gavin Newsom announced today "Project Roomkey," which moves people experiencing homelessness into motel and hotel rooms to protect them and the general community from the novel coronavirus. FEMA is supplying funding to pay for the rooms. So far, Newsom says 869 people have been temporarily housed under the program. Project Roomkey will target hotels in counties with significant homeless populations that are also experiencing high concentrations of COVID-19 transmission. According to the governor's office, local governments to date have secured 6,867 hotel and motel rooms for this purpose.


  • Central Coast congressman Jimmy Panetta is calling on the Navy to give out more information on how it is protecting deployed sailors and Marines in face of COVID-19. Panetta and 25 other members of Congress sent a letter to Navy leadership, asking for details on what precautions the military is taking to ensure the health and safety of  service members.


  • San Luis Obispo County has a local help line, 211. It's operated by the United Way of San Luis Obispo County, CAPSLO, the county and the district attorney's office. According to the United Way's Linda Wingert, in March, 211 SLO County has answered almost 500 calls. Wingert says the greatest need is housing, next is food and meal delivery and third on the list is help with utilities. Dial 2-1-1 from any phone to connect with the service. When someone in SLO County calls the newly-created statewide helpline—(833) 544-2374—it connects callers to 211 SLO County. 
  • The SLO County Office of Education announced today county public schools will continue to deliver "distance education" to all students for the foreseeable future. Food distribution at many school sites across the county continue as an essential function of government. The office is also working with local vendors to provide internet service for all students.


  • Santa Maria city officials are making it easier to access nearby open space. Usually Los Flores Ranch Park costs a daily access fee for non-Santa Maria residents. Now the city is waiving all fees. The Los Flores open space is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Hartnell Community College announced instruction will continue to be all online through the end of the summer 2020 session. 
  • Allan Hancock Community College continues to offer emergency food distribution at its Santa Maria campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. Participants are asked to use Entrance #5 on South Bradley Road. 
  • This week the Paso Robles city council voted to enforce two county ordinances: one is a temporary moratorium on residential and commercial evictions. Tenants must give notice to landlords that they cannot pay the rent, and they will have six months to pay all the rent due. The city also will start fining non-essential  businesses that refuse to close.

MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020

  • In a little over two weeks, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County has gone from one to 71. Of those, two dozen people have recovered, and there have been no deaths from the virus, according to the county public health department. Paso Robles has seen the most cases. Click here to see a detailed breakdown of SLO County cases.

WEEKEND, MARCH 28 & 29, 2020

  • Vehicular access to Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo State Beach is temporarily halted; they are the latest state-owned parks to close in an effort to enforce physical distancing mandates. Hearst Castle and parking areas at Cayucos, Morro Bay and Pismo state beaches are now closed. The beaches themselves are open to foot traffic, surfers and other recreation.
  • San Luis Obispo County has opened a virtual local assistance center. It’s meant to be a one-stop online center for people to get help with everything from emergency childcare to filing for unemployment to aiding small businesses apply for federal funding. It’s available via the website
  • Grocery stores continue to set aside special hours for senior-only shopping. At Food-4-Less in San Luis Obispo, that's from 6 to 7 a.m. At the SLO Vons, it's 7 to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Check the website of your grocery stores to see senior hours.

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2020

  • There are now 59 confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County; five are hospitalized, with two in the intensive care unit.
  • There are more stringent restrictions for visiting people in the hospital or at care facilities in SLO County. Get more info at 805-781-5500.


  • SLO County officials announced this afternoon they are closing the parking lots at parks, piers and beaches, all in an effort to discourage people getting together. Cities like Morro Bay are stepping up enforcement of the physical distancing rules on beaches. The county is closing El Chorro Regional Park to the public and will be treating homeless people there who test positive for COVID-19.  
  • Santa Barbara County’s food bank organization says it is starting free home food delivery for qualified seniors. Call 2-1-1 to request the service.


  • California's governor announced Wednesday afternoon a deal brokered between the nation's largest banks that gives a 90-day delay on mortgage payments. Wells Fargo, Citibank, Chase and US Bank have agreed to a three-month forbearance period on mortgage payments nad foreclosures. Bank of America only agreed to 30 days. 


  • San Luis Obispo County libraries are urging parents to take advantage of online resources. The Paso Robles library has compiled a listing of websites that offer virtual field trips, like London's British Museum and NASA's Mars Curiosity rover.
  • Cal Poly student has tested positive for COVID-19. The students left the county on March 17 and subsequently was tested elsewhere, but is being counted in SLO County tallies of positive cases.
  • More state parks are being shut down today to discourage large crowds. But while parking lots may be closed, many parks and open spaces remain accessible.

MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020

  • The newly-opened Pismo Preserve is being shuttered temporarily. The Land Conservancy of SLO County says it has determined that "due to the design of the trails, constraints of the parking lot and restrooms, and the numbers of visitors we have seen in the last few days, the Pismo Preserve does not provide adequate opportunity for social distancing." 
  • There is a severe blood shortage in the U.S. due to canceled blood drives. However, donating blood is on the list of permitted activites during California's statewide stay-at-home order.
  • The city of Morro Bay has launched a COVID-19 phone hotline (805-772-6278). The hotline is being operated by city staff and a local volunteer group called Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD). VOAD volunteers will be connected to those that need assistance and are willing to assist in any way they can, including pick-up and delivery of meals, groceries, household items and medications. Those interested in volunteering can call the COVID-19 hotline at 805-772-6278 or complete the volunteer form found on the City’s website at www.morrobayca/covid19.

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2020

  • As of Sunday afternoon, there are now 27 COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obipso County. Testing for the coronavirus will be made available to first responders, said SLO County's health officer Saturday afternoon, but not until those people are symptomatic. The county public health department lab can accommodate testing up to 50 patients per day. Those who have a fever above 104 degrees F and breathing difficulties are the highest priority for testing. The 40 Prado Warming Center will be open Sunday afternoon due to rain. Client check-in begins at 4:30 pm at 40 Prado Road. Santa Barbara County has 13 cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday night.


  • There are now 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in SLO County.

  • SLO County Public Health is staffing a phone assistance center to take community questions 7 days a week from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. (805) 543-2444

  • A local restaurant guide in Santa Barbara has created a listing of all the restaurants delivering during the stay-at-home orders, including special offers and messages from each.

  • Next week, the Santa Barbara County board of supervisors will consider passing a moratorium on evictions of residential tenants in the unincorporated areas of the county.

  • The public transportation agency in the Santa Ynez Valley is temporarily suspending all fixed-route bus service. Anyone with essential travel needs can get Dial-A-Ride service, which is usually reserved for seniors. It's a service similar to Lyft or Uber, where you call for a ride, but it just costs $1.50 per ride. The Dial-A-Ride service is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. M-F, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and no service on Sundays. To use the public transportation service to go to the grocery store, doctor's appointments, pharmacy, etc., call  (805) 688-5452 to schedule a ride.

  • The city of Atascadero has made a website page that lists what the local volunteer organizations and churches have available in terms of assistance. 

FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020

  • The entire state of California is now under a 'stay-at-home' order. Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday evening the order would be in effect for several weeks. 

  • All schools are likely suspended until the end of summer, said Newsom.

  • Most of the Santa Barbara County's public counters will be closed through April 3 or longer, depending on the status of the pandemic. But most departments have online, mail, fax, phone and drop boxes for the public to continue accessing county-run programs and services.

  • Morro Bay Cares is offering a variety of services, including R.U.O.K. (Are you ok?) in which you can sign up for daily wellness calls, and a list of open restaurants providing meal take-out, pick-up and delivery services.


  • San Luis Obipso County's 'shelter-in-place' order goes into effect at 5 p.m.

  • California's insurance commissioner today asked insurance companies provide policyholders with at least a 60-day grace period to pay insurance premiums, to ensure policies are not cancelled for nonpayment of premium due to the novel coronavirus public health emergency. 

  • The city of Paso Robles is asking all nonessential businesses to close Thursday. 


  • Monterey, SLO counties issue 'shelter-at-home' orders. As of Thursday evening, county government and health officials are asking San Luis Obispo County residents to stay at home and refrain from gatherings of any kind. If you do go out, health officials want everyone to maintain a six-foot buffer of social distancing. Click here for more on this story.

  • California’s governor signed an executive order waiving eligibility re-determinations for 90 days for Californians who participate in Medi-Cal health coverage; CalFresh food assistance; CalWORKs; Cash Assistance for Immigrants; and In-Home Supportive Services. The change will allow current recipients of these safety net programs to continue receiving them without interruption.

  • Local public schools continue to provide meals for pickup from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., free for anyone 18 or under. Children must be present. See this Tribune article for a complete listing of all the locations in San Luis Obispo County.

  • As the first cases are confirmed in Monterey County, public health officials issued a 'shelter-in-place' directive county-wide. The city of Salinas declared a public health emergency and all city buildings have been closed to the public: city hall, fire stations, libraries and the airport. Effective as of 12:01 a.m., the health officer of Monterey County is requiring people stay home except for essential needs, in effect until April 8 or further notice.

  • The Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans to help homeowners and small businesses recover from declared disasters like the coronavirus pandemic. You can find out if you are eligible and apply online, and get more information on the SLO County website,


  • The San Luis Obispo Public Health Department announced three additional cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) today, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in SLO County to six.

  • From the Santa Barbara County public health department: Santa Barbara County bars, nightclubs, pubs, breweries and wineries are being directed to immediately close. Restaurants and other food facilities offering on-site dining should immediately transition to only offering delivery or take-out service as part of the public health effort to slow the spread of coronavirus disease. The department is urging local bars nightclubs, pubs, breweries, and wineries to comply with this request immediately and to cancel any planned St. Patrick’s Day celebrations or events.

  • San Luis Obispo County Superior Court says it is continuing all “non-time sensitive matters to a later date to minimize the public’s potential exposure to COVID-19 during court appearances or jury service.” Court officials advise to check the court’s website for ongoing updates and additional juror and remote appearance information.

  • Paso Robles is the latest municipality to declare a local state of emergency. That activates the city's emergency operations center, which in turn enables the city to quality for federal funding. And help the city coordinate resources wtih county, state and federal emergency response teams. 

  • Due to an executive order released Monday by the county's and city of San Luis Obispo's administration, all bars and restaurants are barred from selling onsite alcohol, in an attempt to discourage St. Patrick's Day gatherings that could help spread the coronavirus. It's in effect until Wednesday at noon.

  • Public buses in San Luis Obispo are still running. SLO Transit says it's cleaning and sanitizing buses more frequently than ever and drivers are wearing gloves, and there's hand sanitizer available for passengers.

  • Santa Barbara County supervisors are still meeting today, and the public can attend virtually. If you choose to attend in person, you will be required to maintain social distancing of six feet or more.

  • California's governor has issued an executive order that authorizes local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners, slows foreclosures, and protects against utility shutoffs for everyone affected by COVID-19. If you are facing eviction, contact your local city administration.

MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2020

  • The city of San Luis Obispo is closing all city facilities temporarily to the public, but will continue to provide all essential services to the community. This will be accomplished by phone, email and online services that limit person to person contact. 

  • Many local government meetings are canceled, and will be rescheduled. For those taking place this week, they will be closed to a public audience but will be digitally accessible. SLO-Span will carry many. 

  • The Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office is encouraging and requesting people who have criminal cases pending in Santa Barbara Superior Court to contact their defender’s office so that they may arrange to have a Deputy Public Defender make their court appearances for them. Individuals who are not represented by an attorney and have an upcoming court hearing on a criminal matter, should call one of their three branch locations: Santa Barbara: (805) 568-3470; Santa Maria: (805) 346-7500; Lompoc: (805) 737-7770

  • RTA and South County Transit are reducing bus service. Starting today, the transit buses will operate on a Saturday schedule and will operate weekday Express bus trips to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus in the public and within our staff. This change will affect the hours of the Runabout paratransit services. Dial a Ride will provide services for medical trips only.