As COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County surge beyond the capacity of local contact tracers to keep up, the Public Health Department will no longer provide personalized isolation and quarantine orders to each individual who tests positive or has been exposed to COVID-19. Instead, a new Health Officer Order to Isolate or Quarantine applies to all those who test positive and their close contacts.

Those who test positive will receive a text message or email notification, together with detailed instructions to isolate and direction to inform their close contacts. However, even these notifications may be delayed as cases increase at an unprecedented pace in SLO County.

“The bottom line is, stay home if you are sick or if you test positive for COVID-19 with a lab test or a home test,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “If you’re a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and aren’t up-to-date with your vaccination, you need to quarantine. In either case, act immediately and do not wait to hear from a contact tracer or expect to receive a personal letter.”

Detailed isolation and quarantine guidance, along with a copy of the new Health Officer Order, is available online at This guidance reflects recent changes from the CDC and California Department of Public Health regarding the duration and specifics of existing isolation and quarantine. For people without symptoms who test negative after five days, this may result in a shorter isolation or quarantine period followed by strict masking.

“If you meet the criteria to exit your isolation or quarantine after five days, please remember you must be extremely diligent in masking until after day ten,” said Dr. Borenstein. “That means avoiding places where you might take off your mask, like restaurants, bars and movie theaters, and places where you might breathe heavily around others, like the gym.”

The updated guidance includes links to forms that individuals may use to self-attest and receive documentation of their need to quarantine and of their release from isolation or quarantine. Those who test positive may use their notification from Public Health, together with the general Health Officer Order, as documentation of their need to isolate.

Employers and school administrators should accept these notifications and self-attestation documents as valid documentation of the need to isolate or quarantine, and of release from isolation and quarantine, as Public Health is no longer able to provide personal letters for this purpose.

Masking is required in indoor public places in San Luis Obispo County and across California. Medical-grade N95/KN95 or surgical masks provide additional protection. Vaccines—both boosters and primary series—are available at no cost at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, Public Health Department clinics, and mobile clinics countywide. To schedule an appointment, visit or, or call (833) 422-4255.