As of 10:40 p.m. on September 20 there are 2,218 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County. 

Santa Cruz healthcare providers’ capacity to administer and process COVID-19 tests has increased since the lockdowns began in March.  

Testing is a vital part of responding to the pandemic, as it helps public health officials understand the virus’s prevalence, spread, and contagiousness. 

The majority of Santa Cruz test processing is currently through commercial facilities. In August, Santa Cruz County expanded their partnership with UC Santa Cruz by increasing their test processing capacity. 

“We care deeply about the health and wellbeing of our community and we are honored to play an important role in helping provide much-needed COVID-19 testing,” said UCSC vice chancellor of research Scott Brandt, whose office oversees the lab, in an email.

Currently, the UCSC lab processes 700 tests per week. With funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the lab will be able to process 600-800 tests per day later this year. CARES Act funding went toward an $805,000 purchase of lab equipment that expanded the lab’s testing capacity from an original 30-40 tests per day in May.  

“Supporting our local university and their support of the community strengthens [this] partnership,” said Corinne Hyland, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency spokeswoman, in an email. “Testing being geographically local helps reduce test turnaround time as well.”

City on a Hill Press has compiled some tips to help you navigate the process of getting tested for COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County.
  1. There are 16 different COVID-19 testing sites in Santa Cruz County, which all require you to book an appointment. How you book an appointment will depend on which site you choose. Check out this map, also below, for the locations of these sites.
  2. Healthcare providers recommend getting tested if you have symptoms that include coughing, sore throat, difficulty breathing or loss of taste. If you don’t have symptoms, but suspect you came in contact with someone infected, get tested. 
  3. Most sites require health insurance to receive a test, but a few clinics in Santa Cruz County treat patients without insurance. These clinics include Salud Para La Gente, Santa Cruz Community Health Centers, and the Emeline Street Clinic. OptumServe, a federal health service, administers tests to those without health insurance at no cost out-of-pocket. 
  4. A COVID-19 test sample is collected from your nose or the back of your throat. The process of collecting a sample from the nose may be slightly uncomfortable, as a swab will be inserted about 2 centimeters into your nostril. Some sites require you to take the sample yourself and others have a doctor take the sample.
  5. When you receive results will depend on where your test is administered. Some locations take as little as 24 hours to return results, while others can take up to six days. 
  6. If you do not live in Santa Cruz County, check your local health department for more information.