News of the week
Locally, COVID cases have continued to decline. The county recorded 355 active cases as of Tuesday’s update from the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency. That’s 20 fewer than last week. No new deaths were reported locally, keeping the county’s pandemic death toll at 276.
Local health officials told Lookout last Tuesday that the “tripledemic” threat of COVID, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) surging all at once was showing signs of waning, with all three diseases presenting with less frequency at healthcare facilities in the county.
That trend appears to hold true across the greater Bay Area. Wastewater data from early January show that community prevalence of COVID is falling all across the area, including in San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose, Sunnyvale and more. In other good news, flu and RSV numbers are following those same trends.
The situation is looking better on the national scale, too. Hospitalizations are down across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That said, Santa Cruz and all of its neighboring counties are still in the “substantial” tier of community transmission, which means all are still recording 50 or more cases per 100,000 people. Santa Cruz County is recording 72 cases a week per 100,000 people.
However, the highly contagious Omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, is still gaining traction on the East Coast. It has not spread as quickly in California thus far, but it’s a sign that the possibility of another spike is still quite real.
The updated, Omicron-targeting booster shot is now widely available at local 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 county locations now have immediate availability for people ages 5 and older who have received a primary series.
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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 Tuesday, there were 355 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 276.
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 24 to 48 hours. Each location also has rapid COVID/flu tests and the COVID antiviral, Paxlovid.
The table below lists additional testing resources in Santa Cruz County. However, almost all require appointments.