COVID Dashboard: Bay Area COVID surge heading to its end. Will winter look different?

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

News of the week

Weeks of declining COVID numbers have had Bay Area residents breathing sighs of relief after a big summer wave. The same can be said for this week, as case numbers dipped to their lowest levels since April.

Good news, of course. But as always, health experts remain cautious, reminding the public that we’ve been in this same position more than once before. The fact that winter is right around the corner just reinforces the need for cautious optimism.

Locally, cases continue to drop. The county recorded 994 active cases as of Tuesday’s update from the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, 146 fewer than last Monday. Three new deaths have been reported locally, raising the county’s pandemic total to 273.

The long-awaited Omicron-targeting vaccine is not yet available in Santa Cruz County; local officials still anticipate availability later in the month. So while we still don’t know if that tool might stifle a winter surge, the collective COVID stress level is at its lowest point in months as summer comes to a close.

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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.

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 Tuesday, there were 994 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 273 after three more deaths in the past week.

Wastewater COVID tracking data as of Aug. 21.
(Via California Department of Public Health)

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.