Today was a relatively slow day. I took Penny for her run and edited a number of photographs. I am looking forward to online church tomorrow though I would prefer to attend in person. It makes no sense to allow businesses open and yet not allow churches to have in person services as long as they follow CDC guidelines for prevention of the spread of the virus.
Today county officials reported three new cases of COVID-19 bringing up the countywide total to 243 as of May 16. According to data from the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department, 197 patients have fully recovered and 43 are recovering at home. There are two patients in the hospital, both of whom are in an intensive care unit, according to health officials. The county has reported one death as a result of COVID-19. County health officials say the majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county are in Paso Robles, with a total of 95 cases out of 243. Officials say Atascadero has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in San Luis Obispo County, with 37 patients. Data from the health department also show most confirmed cases of the virus are in individuals between the ages 18-49, with 109 patients within that age range. The county public health department says it has conducted 2,354 tests at its lab, 80 of which came back positive. Health officials say private labs have conducted 4,116 tests, 163 of which had a positive result.
It has been one month since a statewide emergency order went into effect setting bail at $0 for lower level offenses. While it was intended to reduce the jail population and limit the spread of COVID-19, it’s allowed suspects who may otherwise not have been able to post bail, to get out and potentially offend again. Just one day after arrests were made in connection with a bomb threat at the San Luis Obispo County courthouse, one of the suspects is already out of jail. “Sadly, that crime even though it’s a felony to call in a threat of a bomb in a building, that qualifies for zero bail,” said San Luis Obispo County District Attorney, Dan Dow. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office says at least 72 inmates are also walking free since the zero bail emergency order went into effect last month. “I find it to be really troubling for our community’s safety,” Dow said. Most misdemeanor and lower level felonies make the cut. Plus, those accused of child or elder abuse, car theft, and even hit-and-run are eligible for zero bail. Gregory Sullivan, Owner of ABC Bonding in San Luis Obispo says some of the alleged criminals are picking up new cases before even making their first court appearance. “We’re seeing a lot of car thefts and a lot of burglaries a lot of things that some of them know they’re just going to get booked and then they’re going to get released,” Sullivan explained. Critics say it is a one size fits all program that’s just not needed in all 58 counties. “Our county still has no cases, not even one of Coronavirus in our jail and so to apply this zero bail in our community was really an answer for another county and applied here which I actually think made us less safe,” Dow said. At San Luis Obispo County Jail, each new inmate is isolated for 14 days in addition to other safeguards like temperature checks throughout the facility. Meantime, Sullivan says we have 18,000 to 20,000 active warrants in SLO County and he believes when this is all said and done, there’s going to be many more. “With this, just releasing people, there’s nothing hanging over their head. When that alarm clock goes off in the morning on their court date they can just roll over in bed and go ‘ah, I’m not dealing with this today and catch me when you can,'” Sullivan said. The zero-bail ruling will remain in effect until 90 days after Governor Newsom lifts the COVID-19 State of Emergency. This November, voters will see a bail reform proposition on ballots.
The woman accused of calling in phony bomb threat to the San Luis Obispo courthouse on Wednesday has been released from jail on a no bail release. At about 11 a.m., Carrie Maggard, 40, of Los Osos made a 911 call and reportedly said there were two bombs in the courthouse. Police then closed several streets; bailiffs evacuated the courthouse and law enforcement searched for the bombs. Investigators found no explosive devices. Investigators tracked down 30-year-old Derek Atkins, the owner of the phone used to make the bomb threat, then determined his girlfriend, Maggard, made the call. When questioned, Maggard admitted to making the bomb threat. The same morning, Atkins was at the courthouse and scheduled to turn himself in to serve a prison sentence on an unrelated case. Shortly after bailiffs took Atkins into custody, Maggard made the bomb threat. Investigators believe Atkins and Maggard conspired to make the bomb threat. Officers booked Maggard in San Luis Obispo County Jail on charges of making a false bomb threat and conspiracy. Maggard’s bail was set at $20,000. But, Maggard was later released under California’s current rule that reduces bail to $0 for inmates awaiting trial for most misdemeanors and felonies that, by state law, are not considered violent crimes. Atkins currently remains in SLO County Jail without bail.
Timothy and Titus Shanks, music majors at Cal Poly have been struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on their education. Timothy indicated that for lecture type classes the online format works okay. Titus stated that performance and orchestra playing are an important part of their music education and they cannot be done online. Both Timothy and Titus were selected for an overseas one-year music education program and they are waiting to see if the program will be held and if they are able to go.