COVID-19 updates in Santa Cruz County: Infections, hospitalizations, deaths and demographic data
The What: Santa Cruz County’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues to slow down. As of this week, the change in the 14-day average was minus-68%.
According to county data, there were a total of 2,473 active COVID-19 cases as of the most recent update Tuesday, a number on a steady decline from previous weeks.
How Santa Cruz County compares: The county is currently in the red tier, indicating the highest level of infectious spread. This level is the same as our neighbors in Northern and Central California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the state as a whole is also currently in the red tier.
As of Thursday, 74.1% of Santa Cruz County residents were fully vaccinated, a minimal increase from the week prior and slightly higher than the statewide figure of 73.7%. However, as Lookout reported on Dec. 10, a quirk in the state reporting figures could be artificially reducing that number, increasing it by as much as 5%. This would put the county more in line with its neighbors.
Neighboring Santa Clara and San Mateo counties had fully vaccinated rates of 84.9% and 83.5%, respectively; Monterey County stood at 71.1%, and San Benito County was 74.8% fully vaccinated. Marin County was at 86%, the second-highest in the state to Imperial County’s 89.1%.
Current cases, hospitalizations and deaths: As of Thursday, Santa Cruz County had nearly 2,000 fewer cases than it did a week ago due to a high number of backlogged cases coming off the dashboard. Hospitalizations, which health officials have said typically lag behind case rates by about two weeks, were also a bit lower, with 22 county residents reported hospitalized — down from 28 last week. No new deaths were recorded in the past week, leaving the county’s pandemic total at 252.
Local COVID-19 patients are treated at either Dominican Hospital or Watsonville Community Hospital. Dominican spokesperson Kevin Kimbrough said that there were 18 COVID-positive patients as of Wednesday, down from 25 last week. Of those, he said three were fully vaccinated, seven were partially vaccinated, and eight were not vaccinated.
According to a hospital representative, Watsonville Community Hospital had four COVID-positive patients as of Wednesday. One was unvaccinated, and three were vaccinated. Information on to what degree they were immunized was not immediately available.
Geographic breakdown: The city of Watsonville had nearly 44% of the county’s active cases as of Thursday, and the city Santa Cruz had more than 28%.
Since the start of the pandemic nearly two years ago, South County has seen the highest number of overall cases among local regions. In particular, Watsonville has had more than 40% of the total number of cases despite comprising about 30% of the overall population.
Amid high demand for COVID testing during the Omicron surge, a testing site run by Inspire Diagnostics opened at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and remains available to the entire community. Inspire has been partnering with the County Office of Education to test county educators and students and their family members at several other sites across the county. Registration is required.
The fairgrounds testing site, at 2601 E. Lake Ave. in Watsonville, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Inspire fairgrounds site is in addition to the three run by the company in partnership with the COE — at Cabrillo College, the offices of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and at the COE offices in Santa Cruz — that are open only to county educators, students and their families.
The city of Santa Cruz has also expanded its testing capacity, and last month closed a temporary encampment at Depot Park to make room for the testing site there.
What has also changed is official guidance on masking. Aligning with many of its Bay Area neighbors and general state guidance, Santa Cruz County relaxed its indoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals last week. However, health officials still urge wearing masks in crowded spaces, and to ditch cloth masks and upgrade to N95, KN95 or KF94 face masks — and continued to stress that residents should get vaccinated or boosters shots as soon as eligible.
As of Thursday, appointments were available as soon the next day at local pharmacies, where availability had been about two weeks out during the peak of the Omicron surge.