News of the week
COVID numbers are continuing to trend in the right direction in California just weeks before the anticipated release of Pfizer’s updated, Omicron-targeting vaccine, which could be available as soon as shortly after Labor Day.
Four Bay Area counties — Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo — have entered the “low” level of COVID-19 community transmission. Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties remain in the “medium” community level.
There are other positive trends, with the Bay Area’s seven-day average for new infections falling to about 20 per 100,000 residents as of midweek last week. That’s one-third of the rate the region saw during the height of the summer surge. Further, California’s test positivity rate dropped to 10%, down from over 16% in July.
Santa Cruz County is no different. Locally, cases continue to drop, with the county recording 1,141 active cases as of Monday’s update from the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, 162 fewer than last Monday. Two new deaths have been reported locally, raising the county’s pandemic total to 270.
The improving COVID metrics are welcome sights indeed, given the lengthy summer surge that affected the entire state. Now, attention turns to the updated vaccine, how well it will fulfill its intended purpose of specifically targeting Omicron, its subvariants, and the original strain, and if it can stifle an all-too-familiar winter surge.
County Deputy Health Officer David Ghilarducci said he is hopeful the vaccine’s slightly earlier than expected availability date will apply to Santa Cruz County.
“I’m hoping it is that soon,” he said. “It may take a week or so to get down to the counties, but we don’t anticipate a delay beyond that.”
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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 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.
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 1,141 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.
The pandemic death toll rose to 270 after two more deaths in the past week.
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.
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.
The sites below offer free PCR tests via LHI.care. Turnaround is typically three to five days.
The table below lists additional testing resources in Santa Cruz County. However, almost all require appointments.