Amid a recent rise in cases and hospitalizations, San Luis Obispo County reported three new COVID-19 deaths on July 13 and a near doubling of new cases over the previous week.
The deaths occurred in residents who were in their '50s, '60s, and '70s, according to SLO County Public Health, and happened over the past few weeks. They're the first COVID-19 fatalities to hit SLO County since May, and they bring the local death toll to 264.
None of the individuals who died were vaccinated, health officials said.
"It is heartbreaking to lose valued members of our community to COVID-19 and even more painful now that we have the tools to protect each other and prevent this kind of tragic loss," SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said in a statement. "I beg our community: Let this be our county's last loss of life from this horrible disease."
- IMAGE COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH
- NEW DEATHS COVID-19 cases are on the rise in SLO County, with three new deaths reported on July 13.
Although COVID-19 vaccines are widely available and highly effective at preventing infection or serious illness, only about half of SLO County residents are fully vaccinated, according to a Los Angeles Times tracker.
"I urge you to protect yourself, your most vulnerable neighbors, and those you love by getting vaccinated today," she said.
The new deaths accompany a rise in COVID-19 cases both locally and statewide, as the more transmissible and deadly Delta variant takes hold and now accounts for 43 percent of cases in California.
Between July 6 and 13, SLO County saw 70 new cases, a rise from 36 new cases during the prior week. As of July 13, there are 93 active cases in the county. Six residents were hospitalized with the virus as of July 13 (a spike from the previous week, when just one was hospitalized).
While SLO County has reported only four known cases of the Delta variant, local officials warn that that number likely does not reflect all of the Delta cases in the county.
"It's important to note that this doesn't mean there have only been four cases," said Michelle Shoresman, a public information officer for SLO County Public Health. "Until recently, only about 14 percent of positive case samples were sequenced at the state laboratory to identify their strain. While state guidance has recently changed to encourage all labs to sequence all positive cases, not all labs have the capacity to do this." Δ