COVID Dashboard: Is another bivalent booster coming?

A pile of syringes
(Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters)
An graphic image for the Lookout COVID Dashboard

News of the week

Monday’s update of the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency’s COVID case count showed 287 active cases. That’s just 7 fewer than last Monday. No new deaths were reported locally, keeping the county’s pandemic death toll at 276.

Hospitalizations are down across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Local transmission, however, has jumped slightly. Both Santa Cruz and San Benito counties have again joined Santa Clara, San Mateo and Monterey counties in the “substantial” tier of community transmission, which means that they are recording between more than 50 cases per 100,000 people. Currently, Santa Cruz County is seeing 58 cases per 100,000 people — up 9 from last week.

Meanwhile, wastewater data for the county shows virus levels trending down somewhat — a possible effect of the spring season commencing, leaving cold, flu and now COVID season behind.

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.

What we’re reading


Since it has now been more than six months since the updated, Omicron-targeting booster shot was made available for use in adults, those who have received the jab could be wondering if yet another booster is in store. According to a Huffington Post report, it likely won’t be coming very soon.

As of now, health care experts are observing that the booster has sustained good protection against serious illness and hospitalization. If that changes, discussion about a second bivalent booster dose will heat up.

Further, what that could look like is also an unanswered question. It’s not clear whether or not a hypothetical second shot would be another dose of the current bivalent vaccine or another formula altogether. Keep an eye on those talks to figure out what your next dose might look like.

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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.

Masking rules

Neither the state of California nor Santa Cruz County currently requires indoor masking. For county public schools, as of March 11, 2022, masks are optional though highly recommended.

As of April 10, 2022, 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, 2022, 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 287 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.

Wastewater COVID tracking data as of March 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, 2022, 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

Citing declining cases, health officials have closed a number of testing facilities around Santa Cruz County. The table below lists testing resources around the county; almost all require appointments.



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