News of the week
The updated, Omicron-targeting booster shot is now widely available locally at 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’s county locations now have immediate availability for people ages five and older who have received a primary series.
With about 300 Omicron subvariants currently making the rounds globally, health care experts expect a winter surge. It’s not all bad, though. The new subvariants are quite similar to the variant used to develop the new bivalent booster, meaning that it should continue to provide adequate protection. Further, UC San Francisco epidemiologist George Rutherford says there is no current evidence that the variants currently circulating cause more severe illness.
But people need to get the shot in order for it to work. Though the jab is widely available, rates of uptake appear to be low across the Bay Area, with just 13.9% of eligible Santa Cruzans having received the shot as of last week.
Should that trend continue, there could be more severe cases in the event of a winter surge.
Locally, cases dropped after a few weeks of mild increases. The county recorded 588 active cases as of Monday’s update from the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, 54 fewer than last Monday. No new deaths were reported locally, keeping the county’s pandemic total at 274.
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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, 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 588 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 274.
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.
Sutter/Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Emeline Health Center
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.
Horsnyder Pharmacy & Medical Supply
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.