COVID Dashboard: Cases jump, but positivity rate lower than that of our neighbors

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

News of the week

This week’s COVID report is quite the mixed bag.

On one hand, cases rose significantly since last week, with Santa Cruz County reporting 1,705 active cases Monday compared to 1,248 last Monday — an increase of 457 cases.

It is worth noting yet again that this number is far from exact. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether this is due to more infections or simply to a higher number of PCR tests taken and reported over the past week.

That said, the county’s positivity rate of 8.6% matches that of the state and is lower than neighboring counties’ reported figures. San Francisco’s, Santa Clara’s and Monterey’s are 12.1%, 11.3% and 10% respectively.

Per the San Jose Mercury News, Bay Area case rates are down approximately 10% from two weeks ago. Still, cases are quite high across the entire region.

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 a 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.

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 1,248 active cases logged by the county. This does not include unreported rapid tests taken at home, so this number is not exact.

One new death was reported in the past week, raising the pandemic total to 263.

14-day average; data as of May 17.
(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.