San Luis Obispo County

Marco Bruschi

Younger adults are contributing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, and a spike in confirmed cases statewide has led California's governor to reinstate shut-down orders for all bars, pubs and brewpubs. And while not ordered to do so, San Luis Obispo city officials announced Wednesday that the city's bars must too close as of July 2. 

Issues & Ideas: Flying at SBP, job losses for undocumented workers and GALA pride

Jun 26, 2020

On this episdoe of Issues & Ideas, San Luis Obispo author Nicholas Belardes talks about growing up in Bakersfield and going to a high school steeped in Confederate symbolism. A new report from UC Merced shows undocumented workers have been hit hard when it comes to job loss during the pandemic, especially women in non-essential jobs. SLO County Regional Airport director Kevin Bumen discusses the current protocol of transiting through the airport, in-flight COVID-19 precautions and the state of the airline industry as people are beginning to think about traveling again. Michelle Call of  the Central Coast's Gay and Lesbian Alliance, or GALA, gives us an update on local happenings during Pride Month. And finally, we learn how sea otters may be keeping our estuaries’ underwater plants healthy.

Courtesy Ryan Joiner

California is giving the green light for movie theaters and gyms to reopen as of June 12, but not all businesses will be ready. KCBX News spoke to local gym and movie theater owners to find out what the hold up is and what it’ll be like for customers once doors reopen.

The use of face coverings or masks has become one of the biggest debates nationwide during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Santa Barbara and Monterey counties have adopted a mandatory mask ordinance. But in San Luis Obispo County, it’s up to individual towns to decide.

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While stay-at-home orders remain in place statewide, people experiencing homelessness have been particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. To try to help that population, in early April, California’s governor announced Project Roomkey, saying a federal agency would pay 75% of the cost to house homeless individuals in hotels and motels across the state.

But how many hotel and motel rooms are actually currently housing homeless people on the Central Coast?

Angel Russell/KCBX

Retail, hair salons and in-restaurant dining services are reopening in San Luis Obispo County after weeks of closure, but the pandemic has changed the landscape of business as usual.

On this episdoe of Issues & Ideas, we hear from a SLO County infectious disease physician who is a key player in paving the way out of the pandemic shutdown; and from SLO supervisor Lynn Compton, who gives an update on the current status of the county's reopening plan. A founder of Lighthouse Atascadero talks about how the nonprofit has helped young people fight addiction since 1994, and how its programs have grown over the years. We’ll follow Father Ian as he hunts for local wild yeast in “Playing With Food,” capturing some yeast near a patch of poison oak and baking with it. And finally, we learn more about a fatal shark attack earlier in the month in waters off a state beach near Watsonville.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer talks with the city manager of Morro Bay, Scott Collins, about the local government's response to the pandemic shutdown. As a popular seaside travel destination in recent decades, the economic health of Morro Bay has been dependent on tax revenue generated by hotel occupancy, retail sales, and rental income from waterfront business leases—all of which have plummeted due to COVID-19. For the first time in modern history, Morro Bay has instituted reverse tourism promotions to discourage visitors and vacationers.

In contrast to decades of positioning itself as a travel destination, this week San Luis Obispo County started airing online ads aimed at discouraging tourism from the Central Valley and elsewhere. On Friday, county officials went a step further.

Nursing homes have been ravaged by coronavirus throughout the nation. Data shows that people who reside or work in long-term care facilities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and a new report shows that as of April 23, 2020 there have been over 10,000 reported deaths due to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities (including residents and staff), in the 23 states that publicly report death data, representing 27% of deaths due to COVID-19 in those states.  So how is the Central Coast responding to the threat of COVID-19 in local long-term care facilities? What is being done to protect both residents and employees? And what is the future of nursing homes?

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, the SLO Chamber of Commerce's Jim Dantona speaks with SLO County health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein—not just about public health issues, but Borenstein's personal path to the job that, before the current pandemic, was not often in the public spotlight. We visit with a retired pilot, Captain Karen Kahn, one of the first female pilots hired to fly with a commercial airline, and learn more about a nonprofit—where Kahn is a mentor—that teaches Santa Barbara-area youth all aspects of aviation and, ultimately, how to fly a plane. Tom Wilmer speaks with Christine Johnson, executive director of the Central Coast Aquarium, about the Avila aquarium and the planned Morro Bay expansion. Finally, Monterey County organizations pick up the phone to check in with people during the shutdown. 

San Luis Obispo County officials have released a framework for reopening the county—called the START guide—emphasizing that it's a draft outline. At times contradictory, nevertheless the guide is designed to “give our business partners, our organizations, places of worship the best ideas about how they can begin planning in the days and weeks to come,” said the county’s health officer.

SLO County

On Wednesday, the name of San Luis Obispo County’s reopening plan was revealed—the START guide, or ‘Steps To Adapt and Reopen Together.’ Expected to be released Friday, county health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said it’s not going to be a set-in-stone plan.

SLO County

As part of the recent federal stimulus funding, Congress gave $10 billion dollars to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA is now tasked with dolling out that money to airports across the country to help them weather a near-shut down of air travel and commerce.

Fr. Ian Delinger

Agriculture plays a crucial role in the economy of both California and the Central Coast. KCBX's Greta Mart talks with Brent Burchett, executive director of the SLO County Farm Bureau, about a variety of local agricultural issues and challenges for the county's farmers.

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County has slowed in recent days, say county health officials, but they are urging people with symptoms to get tested.

Greta Mart/KCBX

Mindbody is a health and wellness technology company headquartered in San Luis Obispo, with offices in Santa Maria and around the world. While the current stay-at-home situation may be good for some tech companies, like Zoom, for Mindbody this is not the case. On Thursday, the company announced it is laying off or furloughing thirty-five percent of its workforce. 

On this episdoe of Issues & Ideas: We learn more about a STEAM—science, technology, engineering, the arts and math—program for middle school students offered by the Foundation at Hearst Castle. And a nationwide shortage prompts distilleries in San Luis Obispo County to turn production over to hand sanitizer. We hear more about a nonprofit organization called 'School on Wheels' that tutors homeless children in Santa Barbara County. And Father Ian takes us on an educational tour of Central Coast olive groves and olive oil producers. 

On March 14, there was one confirmed cast of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County. Nine days later, as of Monday afternoon, there are 33. Two of those patients have been admitted to a local hospital, one in the intensive care unit.

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.

HelpSLO.com

As health officials began confirming the first COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County, one local woman decided to create a way for people to help each other. HelpSLO is the result.

As San Luis Obispo County’s public health officer warned earlier this week, it was only a matter of time before the novel coronavirus came to the county. Late Saturday evening, the public health department confirmed the first case—a North County resident has tested positive. 

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Sunday afternoon he is directing Californians aged 65-and-older and the chronically ill to stay home and self-isolate in the face of widening transmission of the coronavirus statewide. Officials are barring visits to hospitals and senior centers, except for end-of-life visits.

Additionally, all bars, nightclubs, wineries and brewpubs are to close, "for now," Newsom said.

Greta Mart/KCBX

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently serving a search warrant on San Luis Obispo County. FBI agents arrived early Wednesday morning at the main county building in downtown San Luis Obispo and began searching in government offices under a sealed search warrant.

Michael Barros/KCBX

KCBX News is updating the results in this post as they come in.

The latest unofficial vote tally was released on Monday, March 9 just before 5 p.m. There are still 4,784 ballots to be processed by the San Luis Obispo County Elections division. Clerk-recorder Tommy Gong said it's "to be determined" when the next counting will take place. 

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, we hear from local winemaker Neil Collins, named 2019 “Person of the Year” by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. Collins visits the KCBX studio to talk about his background, changes he’s seen in the local industry and a coming new certification for products produced by regenerative operations. 

James Maxon

Should mountain lions be protected as endangered? This spring the state's Fish and Game Commission is expected to decide whether the animals are to be protected under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).

Are the current local campaigns for San Luis Obispo County supervisorial seats more negative and rancorous than ever? Or have we seen this level of mudslinging in local elections in the past? 

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Developers, landlords, Facebook, construction unions, the state Chamber of Commerce, Realtors, environmental groups and even the AARP wanted to see the bill pass.

On this week’s Issues & Ideas, we get better acquainted with former San Luis Obispo city councilmember Dan Rivoire. He was recently selected to be the new executive director of leadership development for the SLO Chamber of Commerce. He’s tasked with running Leadership SLO, a county-wide program designed to bring participants out of their comfort zones to learn new leadership styles and ways of handling diversity in opinions and people.

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