News of the week
Monday’s update of the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency’s COVID case count showed 272 active cases. That’s 15 fewer than last Monday. No new deaths were reported locally, keeping the county’s pandemic death toll at 276.
Hospitalizations are down across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Local transmission, however, has jumped slightly. Santa Cruz and its neighboring counties of San Benito, Santa Clara and San Mateo are in the “substantial” tier of community transmission, which means that they are recording between more than 50 cases per 100,000 people. Currently, Santa Cruz County is seeing 60 cases per 100,000 people — up 9 from last week. Monterey County has fallen into the moderate tier.
Meanwhile, wastewater data for the county shows virus levels trending down somewhat — a possible effect of the start of spring, leaving cold, flu, and now COVID season, behind.
The updated Omicron-targeting booster shot is now widely available at local drugstores and health care providers.
Walgreens is booked out about one week in advance at the Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz locations, but has openings at its Freedom location as soon as Tuesday. Safeway and CVS county locations now have immediate availability for people ages 5 and older who have received a primary series.
What we’re reading
In last week’s COVID update, we briefly discussed the possibility of another booster. But there is yet another interesting aspect of the ever-changing vaccine landscape — a completely different method to deliver the COVID vaccine. A CNN article from Monday reports that scientists in Germany have made a nasal vaccine able to attack a COVID infection in the nose and throat, where the virus first establishes itself.
The vaccine blocked the virus from copying itself in hamsters’ upper airways, but it still has a way to go before it receives approval for human use. Although China and India both manufactured nasal vaccines last year, it is unclear how successful they were, as studies on their effectiveness are not yet published. This method is something to keep an eye on for COVID and beyond.
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Santa Cruz County’s three test-to-treat locations are still up and running. Click here to find the closest location.
Currently, Paxlovid is the available medication, showing an 89% reduction in hospitalization and death, and it must be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms to be effective.
Vaccinations and precautions are still strongly recommended.
The easiest way to schedule an appointment for second boosters is at local pharmacies including Rite-Aid, CVS and Walgreens.
Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health are still administering second boosters to eligible recipients.
Check our links below for quick access to the relevant websites.
Neither the state of California nor Santa Cruz County currently requires indoor masking. For county public schools, as of March 11, 2022, masks are optional though highly recommended.
As of April 10, 2022, masks are not required for most indoor settings at UC Santa Cruz facilities, though highly recommended. Masks will still be required for on-campus public transportation, in the Early Education Services centers, and in clinical settings.
On April 19, 2022, Santa Cruz Metro lifted its mask mandate for vaccinated passengers, following a federal judge’s ruling that mask mandates are not required on public transportation.
The latest numbers
How does Santa Cruz compare to California and the U.S. in vaccinations? Where are the most current COVID cases in the county, and how does that compare to population? Here is the most recent data.
As of Monday, there were 272 known active cases logged by Santa Cruz County’s Health Services Agency. This does not include unreported rapid tests taken at home, so this number is not exact.
No new deaths were reported, leaving the Santa Cruz County pandemic death toll at 276.
Where can I find a vaccine?
At this point, vaccines are widely available across the county. They are free for everyone, whether insured or not.
As of March 31, 2022, second booster shots are available to people aged 50 and older as well as people 12 and older who are immunocompromised or who have received Johnson & Johnson as their primary series and booster doses.
Rite-Aid, CVS, Horsnyder Pharmacy, Westside Pharmacy and Walgreens are currently offering second boosters.
Those wanting to get the shot through their primary care provider should check the company’s website, as availability may vary.
Health care providers
You can schedule appointments for initial doses and booster shots. Below are the local health care providers that offer the vaccine.
Drugstores and supermarkets
Most pharmacies in the county have COVID-19 vaccines appointments available well into the future. Click the pharmacy of your choice to schedule an appointment.
Citing declining cases, health officials have closed a number of testing facilities around Santa Cruz County. The table below lists testing resources around the county; almost all require appointments.