Coronavirus information from KCBX News

KCBX News aims to provide our audience with the latest local and regional information and updates on the coronavirus and COVID-19. We will update this post as new information becomes available.

Click on the link in the county name to find important public health resources in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Monterey counties.

Click HERE to view a COVID-19 case map of San Luis Obispo County.


Marian Regional Medical Center

Labor Day weekend is here, and beaches along the Central Coast are filling up with visitors. But with rising concerns over the Delta variant, health officials said they are preparing for what the holiday could bring as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. 

Infectious disease specialist Trees Ritter said the projections for COVID-19 don’t look promising, with the busy holiday weekend expecting to draw large crowds together.

“After every single holiday this year — after New Year, after spring break, after Fourth of July, we saw a surge about 10-14 days later," Ritter said.

Courtesy: Francisco Martinez

An indefinite mask mandate went into effect last night for San Luis Obispo County and local businesses are now enforcing it.

The mask mandate applies to all indoor public spaces including restaurants, retail stores and fitness centers.

Several businesses are openly expressing support for the new mandate, echoing the need to keep the community safe.

Lauren Walike

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.

Angel Russell

In June of this year, when COVID-19 cases plummeted, movie theaters saw people returning to fill auditoriums. But with the recent surge of the virus, Park Cinemas theatre in Paso Robles said they are once again in the position of trying to keep their doors open. 

While movie theaters have so far survived the growing popularity of streaming movies online, cinemas have never faced a threat as great as COVID-19.

Courtesy: Rick Ineman

This year’s Solvang Danish Days celebration is officially canceled, as the organizers felt uncertain about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angel Russell

In response to rising COVID cases, Santa Barbara County has announced that masks will be required indoors at all public spaces — regardless of vaccination status — starting Friday at 5 p.m.

“I saw it coming, I think everybody saw it coming," Katrina Carl with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art said. "I think given the recent COVID numbers, I think everybody was anticipating it.”

Carl said they aren’t waiting for the official mandate to take effect Friday evening, and are already mandating guests to wear a mask to enter. 

San Luis Obispo County health officials held a briefing July 29 to urge community members to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the county is seeing a spike in cases among unvaccinated individuals.

SLO County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said since June 15, the county has seen a jump from 50 active cases to 274 active cases as of Monday. Four additional COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded since that date.

Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

More than a month since the state's reopening, health officials say they are beginning to notice cases of COVID-19 rising, with an uptick in patients returning to hospitals seeking care from the virus.

While the surge of COVID-19 cases throughout the nation is overwhelming some hospitals, on the Central Coast, patient numbers are still relatively low but increasing.

Robert Cook, Chief Nursing Officer for Twin Cities Community Hospital, said the Delta variant of the virus is partially fueling the upswing. 

San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department

San Luis Obispo County is stepping up mobile vaccination clinics throughout the area in an effort to encourage people to take the COVID-19 vaccine, especially as the Delta variant is spreading. 

The Delta variant, first detected in India, is now increasing in numbers throughout the world. Dr. Penny Borenstein, SLO County’s public health officer said this variant has shown to spread more easily. 

"I’m most concerned about people who are unvaccinated getting this disease," Borenstein said. "The research is still ongoing, but it may take a greater toll on people's health.”

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

San Luis Obispo County Public Health announced June 29 that the County Public Health laboratory identified the first local case of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Courtesy: WhatsApp

In San Luis Obispo County and across the nation, agencies and organizations are working to address the health disparity between Hispanic and white people while increasing the COVID-19 vaccination rate among the Hispanic community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 63 percent of known COVID-19 infections in California are among the Hispanic community, while the same population accounts for 29 percent of vaccinations.

Courtesy: Francisco Martinez

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the City of San Luis Obispo is deciding whether to keep some pandemic-era changes, like dining parklets.

The city installed the outdoor dining parklets for restaurants when indoor operations were shut down.

The parklets are spaces that are built out onto the street and utilize parking space in front of the businesses, at no cost to the restaurants.

Luke Schwartz is the transportation manager with the City of San Luis Obispo. He said the city is asking people to fill out a survey about whether to keep the parklets.

Courtesy of: San Luis Obispo County Public Health

San Luis Obispo County announced it is moving into the least restrictive yellow tier of the state’s color-coded reopening system June 9 at 8 a.m.

Moving to the least restrictive tier means a larger capacity for many businesses including gyms, movie theaters, wineries, breweries and more.

“I commend everyone who has worked hard to help us reach this milestone, and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated so we can put this pandemic fully in the past,” Dr. Penny Borenstein, public health officer said in a press release.

Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County Facebook Page

The San Luis Obispo County Food Bank honored Hunger Awareness Day June 4 by collecting donations across the county to support those in need.

This year is the 15th annual event held every year on the first Friday of June with donation booths at 12 different locations.

Branna Still is the development director at the SLO Food Bank. She said one in six people in San Luis Obispo County were experiencing food insecurity prior to the pandemic.

Credit NIH / Flickr

The Census Bureau estimates that just over 17% of U.S. adults aged 18 and older are unsure about or have already decided against receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Experts say that level of vaccine hesitancy could make it difficult for the country to reach herd immunity.

With that in mind, KCBX News spoke to local experts about vaccine hesitancy and how to talk to friends and family who are still undecided about the vaccine.

Courtesy: City of San Luis Obispo

The City of San Luis Obispo is planning for the reopening of its facilities in the coming months.

City Manager Derek Johnson outlined a way forward for the city at the May 18 council meeting.

He said the city expects to reopen in alignment with future guidelines from the state.

“Really, we’ll be looking forward to the details that come out from the governor,” Johnson said. “He’s made some statements but the details are unknown.”

Courtesy: Rachel Showalter

Cal Poly’s Alternate Care Site, or ACS, was built as an emergency site to treat COVID-19 patients. After going unused for more than a year, it’s now being taken down.

San Luis Obispo County decommissioning of the facility has been ongoing for the past month.

County health public information officer Michelle Shoresman said they expect to have it completely broken down by the end of May.

Issues & Ideas: A walk for Kristin Smart, living downtown, and the Cal Poly Cat Program

May 17, 2021
photo courtesy of the Cal Poly Cat program

On this edition of Issues & Ideas, you’ll hear more about the three lawsuits the non-profit Friends of Oceano Dunes has filed against the California Coastal Commission, following the landmark decision to phase out off-highway vehicular use at Oceano Dunes. There is a Walk for Kristin Smart being organized to commemorate the anniversary of her death in May, 1996; we’ll check in with some students who plan to attend.

Rachel Showalter

San Luis Obispo County announced it will close the three mass vaccination clinics in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande on June 4.

Rachel Showalter

The COVID-19 vaccination site at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo administers around 1,000 doses every day to county residents.

Courtesy of San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport

Beginning May 2, COVID-19 testing will be available at the San Luis Obispo Airport (SBP).

Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department has announced the county will move into the less restrictive orange tier of the COVID-19 tiered reopening system effective 8 a.m. on April 28, 2021.

Courtesy of Missy Lintner

After more than a year of closure, Point San Luis Lighthouse will reopen its doors to the public May 1.

The lighthouse has been closed to group tours since the initial statewide pandemic shutdown in March 2020.

Rachel Showalter

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department is running a campaign to increase awareness about COVID-19 vaccines in the community.

Rachel Showalter

Goleta residents could see their rate fees for garbage collection increase by 4% as soon as this summer.

San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein announced April 7 that people who are 16 and older can now register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

Santa Barbara County

Three Central Coast-based health centers are expecting to receive more than $11 million in federal funding this month.

Central Coast Coalition of Arts Leaders

The California Department of Public Health released new guidelines for outdoor seated live events and performances that went into effect April 1.