COVID Dashboard: Bay Area health officials urge caution amid surge

A man receives a COVID booster shot at a drive through clinic
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
An graphic image for the Lookout COVID Dashboard

News of the week

We’ve been crawling toward normalcy as our COVID fears has lessened, but the numbers – and public health officials – say donning a mask again may be a good idea.

Last Friday, twelve Bay Area health officials urged the public to continue taking precautions — with masking indoors explicitly noted — as a new wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations take hold.

“There’s a lot of COVID out there right now, so it’s time to take more precautionary measures to protect yourself and your loved ones,” Santa Cruz County Health Officer Gail Newel said in a press release.

The Bay Area has the state’s highest infection rates, largely caused by the highly transmissible Omicron sub-variants. Though deaths and hospitalizations rates remain relatively low, caseloads now increase at a greater rate again.

Cases continued to rise locally, as well. The county saw about a 25% case increase over the last week, jumping from 1,286 recorded cases to 1,717, reversing what had been a moderating trend over the last several weeks.

No new deaths were recorded locally in the past week.

The United States recently surpassed 1 million COVID deaths — the worst loss of any industrialized nation and ten times the death rate of Australia.

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.

Masking rules

Neither the state of California nor Santa Cruz County currently requires indoor masking. For county public schools, as of March 11, masks are optional though highly recommended.

As of April 10, 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, 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 1,717 active cases logged by the county. This does not include unreported rapid tests taken at home, so this number is not exact.

No new deaths were reported in the past week, keeping the pandemic total at 262.

14-day average; data as of May 3.
(Via Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency)

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, 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.

Kaiser Permanente
866-454-8855
Sutter/Palo Alto Medical Foundation
844-987-6115
Dignity Health
831-288-6526
CruzMedMo
831-241-7501
Emeline Health Center
831-454-4100

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.

Safeway
Rite-Aid
CVS
Walgreens
Costco
Horsnyder Pharmacy & Medical Supply
Westside Pharmacy

Getting tested

The sites below offer free PCR tests via LHI.care. Turnaround is typically three to five days.

Mountain Community Resources
6134 Hwy. 9, Felton
Depot Freight Building
119 Center St., Santa Cruz
Watsonville Testing Site
500 Westridge Dr., Watsonville

The table below lists additional testing resources in Santa Cruz County. However, almost all require appointments.