Effective today, San Luis Obispo County is now in the State’s Purple Tier, which has the most restrictions, for at least three weeks due to a fast surge in cases locally.

The State modified its Blueprint for a Safer Economy today and announced that SLO County’s unadjusted case rate was 17.7 last week with an adjusted rate of 12.5 and a 5.1% positivity rate.

“This is disappointing for everyone,” said County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein. “For weeks, we have seen a fast rise in cases here, across the state, and across the country. Our local hospitalization rates remain low.”

Falling back to the Purple Tier means several business sectors in SLO County should resume outdoor-only operations or reduce capacity for indoor operations, starting tomorrow. Schools that are not yet open may not open except for elementary schools that apply for a waiver.

“Due to the rapidity of rise in case counts and hospitalizations, the State is requiring next-day action by counties in business sectors affected by backward movement to a more restrictive tier,” said Dr. Borenstein. “We recognize that this news takes some time to filter throughout the community and such change in business practice is not easily achieved overnight. We ask that our businesses make these changes right away, but we understand that it may take a matter of 2-3 days for universal compliance. We intend to educate rather than come down with robust enforcement action over the next few days.”

SLO County is not alone – 41 counties in California are now in the Purple Tier. Across the State, the virus is spreading faster than ever before and hospitalizations, ICU patients, and deaths are all increasing.

On Monday, SLO County had 712 active cases of COVID-19 and the County’s 14-day new cases averaged at around 65, the highest since the pandemic began. By contrast, in July when the County saw its second-largest surge in cases, active cases peaked at 481 and the 14-day average never rose above 46.

“I hear a lot of people blame Cal Poly for this and I want to be perfectly clear: No single group in our community is to blame for this fall back to the Purple Tier,” Dr. Borenstein said. “Even if we removed cases among Cal Poly students, our case rate would still likely put us back in the Purple Tier, according to our local data. Now is the time for each individual to take extra precautions and follow all health guidelines to slow the spread and help us move forward together.”

All residents should take protective actions to limit the spread of COVID-19: wear a face covering in public, maintain six feet of distance from others outside your household, stay in SLO County (avoid traveling outside of the county), and wash your hands frequently.

For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit ReadySLO.org or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at (805) 788-2903. A staffed phone assistance center at (805) 543-2444 is available Monday – Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist with questions related to COVID-19.