Coronavirus on the Central Coast archive

Jun 13, 2020


  • SLO County's public health department today announced the county's 14th COVID-19 death. Six of those patients were living at the Vineyard Hills nursing home in Templeton, which has an outbreak among patients and staff. 


  • Local elementary schools are seeking waivers that will allow them to reopen campuses to in-person classes in the fall. 
  • SLO County health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said don’t blame tourists or Black Lives Matter demonstrations for SLO County’s rise in COVID-19 cases. The county health department looks at where people with newly diagnosed cases may have contracted the virus. Of all the places, said Borenstein, whether from an occupational settings, protest, worship service, restaurant or elsewhere, “among the cases where we can try to get a sense of where the source of transmission is from... far and away, the highest number of sources that we are able to identify is through friend and family gatherings.” County health officials are emphasizing that people “really need to take that extra measure of behavior change around how we gather at this point in time.”


  • SLO County's COVID-19 case count continues to rise, with seven deaths and hundreds of active cases, says the county's health officer. An important pathway to quelling the virus and reopening the county is via contact tracing, but county staff's calls are going unanswered, says Dr. Penny Borenstein. At the county's weekly Wednesday briefing, Borenstein implored county residents and beyond to respond to telephone calls from the public health department or EOC (emergency operations center). At the same time, she warned of a scam taking place in which people impersonate public health staffers and ask for financial information. Borenstein confirmed that real staffers will not do that.  

FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2020

  • Many of the Central Coast's public school districts have decided that students will not be returning to campuses in the fall. Today the state's governor said schools located in counties on the state's watchlist due to coronavirus cases counts cannot physically open for in-person instruction. That's until the districts' respective county is off the list for at least two weeks. 

MONDAY, JULY 13, 2020

  • San Luis Obispo County has, for the moment, escaped the most stringent of reclosure orders announced today across California.  Elsewhere, church services, gyms, hair and nail salons and more all are now ordered to close down again effective Monday. Due to a sharp increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the state’s governor told every county that any place that people gather indoors—whether that’s in restaurants, wineries, museums—all must close. 31 counties, including Santa Barbara County, are on that list. Despite not yet being on the state’s watchlist, SLO County added over a hundred new cases over the weekend and today, so there are now the highest number of active COVID-19 patients in the county since the pandemic began. The city of Paso Robles sent out a bulletin Monday afternoon to all business owners, saying it expects that if SLO County is added to the watchlist for three days in a row, Paso Robles gyms, churches, salons and more will need to close down once again under state orders. 


  • San Luis Obispo County is heading towards being on the state's watch list, meaning it's likely that bars, wineries and breweries will need to close again sometime in the near future. Restaurants will only be able to provide outdoor dining. 

FRIDAY, JULY 3, 2020


  • In the city of San Luis Obispo, bars, breweries and wine tasting venues are closing their doors tonight after the city issued temporary restrictions for the 4th of July holiday.  


  • Santa Barbara County beaches are closing for the coming weekend. This afternoon the county’s health officer ordered all beaches to close just after midnight through midnight Sunday. Santa Barbara County’s Dr. Henning Ansorg says the order is being issued in response to the county not meeting three of the state’s criteria for whether a county can handle a surge in covid-19 cases. The latest data in Santa Barbara County has over 3000 cases and 29 deaths.

MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2020

  • As coronavirus cases continue to climb across California, over the weekend the governor ordered bars to immediately close is several counties, including in nearby Kern County. Sunday's order is also recommending bars and wine tasting rooms in Santa Barbara County to close as well. SB County health officials say per the California Dept. of Public Health, the county has been on a monitoring list for 13 days. Santa Barbara County may be mandated to issue a health officer order to close bars given the rising case count locally, a county press release said Sunday, and that the county health officer is "strongly considering options to address these concerns."
  • Governor Gavin Newsom went further for one of the hardest-hit counties in terms of confirmed COVID19 cases. On Friday he ordered Imperial County to not only close bars, but reinstate its stay-at-home order, as the county consistently had more per-capita cases than the rest of the state.  The announcement marks the first time Newsom ordered a county to tighten restrictions since businesses began to reopen.

FRIDAY , JUNE 26, 2020

  • Santa Barbara County announced Thursday that nail salons, tattoo parlors and other personal services businesses are free to reopen as of today. That's as long as the business completes a self-assessment of whether it has precautions in place. 
  • San Luis Obispo County libraries are reopening on July 7. According to the library system, "all branches will be following state and county COVID-19 guidelines, and the following precautions will be taken: Patrons will be asked to maintain physical distancing and to wear a face covering while visiting the library; in-house magazines, newspapers, passport services, and Friends of the Library bookstores will not be available at this time; and no seating will be available for leisure reading, and program rooms will remain closed until further notice."

MONDAY, JUNE 22, 2020

  • San Luis Obispo County added 38 new cases over the weekend, and health officials are urging people to take precautions, particularly against gatherings and parties, where more person-to-person transmission is taking place. 


  • California is now requiring all people to wear face coverings or masks. Governor Gavin Newsom announced today new guidelines requires the use of cloth face coverings by the general public when "outside the home, with limited exceptions, including children under the age of two, people who have medical or mental health conditions that prevent wearing face coverings, and people who are eating or drinking at a restaurant or establishment that offers food or beverages, and others," according to Paso Robles city staff. 

FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2020

  • San Luis Obispo County schools plan to reopen in time for the 2020/21 school year. The head of the county’s school districts says schools are making the necessary changes over the summer to enable kids to return to campuses. Asked what it may look like, county superintendent James Brescia says there will be a lot more personal protective equipment, or PPE, available. “I think looking at some of the images that you've seen in other countries as a reopening in terms of the protective barriers, the equipment, the hand sanitization, the checking of temperatures, those will be things that I see utilized across our county,” Brescia said. Those changes extend to private and parochial schools, and Brescia says some schools, like those in rural areas like Cuyama, already can space out desks and students. Urban schools will need to make some more physical alterations. Districts will also offer distance learning for those families unable or concerned about returning in the fall.

MONDAY, JUNE 08, 2020

  • State officials announced movie theaters, bars and gyms can reopen as soon as Friday.

MONDAY, JUNE 01, 2020

  • SLO County health officer Penny Borenstein says as the state remains under shelter-at-home orders due to the pandemic, she’s worried about crowds gathering together in order to demonstrate and protest. Borenstein said she’s asking people to take the same safety measures against the spread of the coronavirus there as anywhere else; namely wearing masks and physically distancing.

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020

  • Starting Tuesday, June 2, three San Luis Obispo County library branches will begin offering curbside pickup services. The library system’s San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, and Arroyo Grande branches will offer curbside pickup Tuesday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020

  • The 2020 California Mid-State Fair is now officially canceled
  • Over 50,000 surgical masks are now available to agricultural growers and farm workers free of charge in San Luis Obispo County, said the county’s ag commissioner. The masks will be distributed on an as needed basis. Growers can call Tom Morgan at 805-781-5910 “if you would like to obtain these masks for your field workers and field crews," said SLO County ag commissioner Martin Settevendemie. He said in addition to PPE, the department is conducting further outreach to the farming and ranching community to let them know where field workers can be tested for COVID-19.
  • Hair salons and barbershops are reopening across San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast. Those businesses are free to welcome back customers if they’ve incorporated all the public health safety precautions asked of them by the county and state. “That includes training of their staff,” said SLO County health officer Penny Borenstein. “It includes all the sanitation measures [and] iit includes mandated face coverings for both the haircutter and the patron who is getting their hair cut during the entirety of the service.” Borenstein said the salon reopening green light does not extend to nail salons or massage parlours. Nor does it cover places or services that involve the face. “So eyebrow weaving, eyelash services, shaving, facials, those types of services at this time are still not permitted.”


  • SLO County announced that as of today, restaurants and retail shops can once again welcome customers inside. 
  • From our colleagues at CapRadio: Californians applying for unemployment benefits have one less hurdle to jump: when you apply to the state Employment Development Department, you're automatically applying for federal coronavirus benefits too. “Under federal law, there's an additional unemployment insurance benefit of $600 per week for anyone who receives even $1 of California state unemployment,” says employment law expert Jennifer Shaw with the Shaw Law Group in Sacramento. Shaw says if you're already getting state benefits—but haven't received federal money yet—there may be a lag. Federal benefits are set to last through the end of July and state benefits for 26 weeks, however lawmakers are looking at extending both of those end dates. 

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2020

  • California's governor annouced if counties could prove to meet certain public health metrics, they could move ahead of the state in reopening the economy. SLO County officials say they are ready, and expect to get the greenlight from the state public health department this week for restaurants to reopen to on-premise dining and retail stores to in-store shoppers.

FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2020

  • Lodging facilities of all types—motelshotelsvacation rentals, RV parks—are being asked to limit their number of rentals, placing a nightly cap at 50 percent. That’s according to a new executive order announced by county officials Friday. As of Sunday night, all lodging businesses are being asked to limit the number of rooms they rent out to half.
  • Borenstein said Friday that county-owned campgrounds like El Chorro Regional Park will be reopening, but only for county residents who show proof of residency

FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2020

  • California moves into what the governor's office is calling early phase two that allows retail shops—florists, clothing, shoe, toy, music shops, antique stores, etc.—to begin reopening with "modifications that reduce risk and establish a safer environment for workers and customers," which still means no in-store shopping, only curbside pickup or delivery. 
  • SLO County continues to wait until the governor's office allows individual counties to move faster on reopening than the state, by submitting a plan and evidence the county is able to handle any surge in COVID-19 cases, should that happen. According to 'county variance' guidelines, counties like Santa Barbara,  SLO, and Monterey counties must certify: there's been no more than one COVID-19 case per 10,000 residents and no COVID-19 deaths in the prior two weeks; testing is available for at least 75 percent of residents within a 30 minute drive in urban areas and an hour in rural ones; and at least 15 people are trained to work as contact tracers per 100,000 residents. Click on link above to see entire list.
  • The July 4th fireworks show in Pismo Beach is the latest casualty of the coronavirus. Pismo's chamber of commerce announced Thursday it is canceling the annual event, because by July the county won't be in the phase yet that allows for large crowds to gather.

MONDAY, MAY 6, 2020

  • California's governor plans to release more info Thursday on what kind of reopening will start taking place as of Friday. That's the day Newsom says he plans to move the state into phase two, which means many retail shops can reopen, but only with curbside pickup and delivery options. 

FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2020

  • San Luis Obispo County is working with state resources to open up more testing centers. You can now make an appointment at new centers in Paso Robles and Grover Beach; the free service is available if you have symptoms, work in health care, are an essential worker or if you are in a high-risk group. 
  • The county has released a draft of its START (Steps To Adapt and Reopen Together) Guide, which county officials say is a plan for a phased reopening of the county once the statewide shelter at home order is changed. For more information, call the recorded Public Health Information Line at (805) 788-2903, and a staffed phone assistance center at (805) 543-2444 is available 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for questions related to COVID-19.


  • Central Coast beach lovers heaved a sigh of relief today after California’s governor announced he is temporarily closing Southern California. Specifically, beaches in Orange county, after hundreds of people showed up at places like Newport Beach. The statewide police chief organization sent out a memo Wednesday evening indicating Newsom was planning to announce Thursday that all California beaches were being closed. But that’s not what happened, surprising many.

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.