Students social distancing as they wait for the bus to arrive.
Art by Willow Gelphman.

As of Oct. 29 at 11:40 a.m, there are 2,861 cases of COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County, including 25 deaths and 2,621 recovered cases.

A recent decline in reported cases prompted Santa Cruz county officials to relax COVID-19 restrictions on activities and business operations, but the county will expand testing capacity in conjunction with UC Santa Cruz.


The California Department of Public Health moved the COVID-19 restrictions of Santa Cruz County to orange tier, loosening restrictions for reopening due to continuous reduction in COVID-19 cases, according to an Oct. 27 press release from the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency.

Santa Cruz county had previously been moved from purple tier to red tier on Sept. 8, allowing a few non-essential businesses to reopen, while maintaining certain social distancing and reduced-capacity guidelines. There are four tiers for activities and business operations, purple tier being the most restrictive. 

Though Santa Cruz is moving to a less restricted tier, the county still plans to expand its testing regime. Currently, there are 19 testing sites throughout the county, including one on UCSC campus. The county plans to double testing capacity at Ramsey Park, and provide additional capacity at another site in North County.     

Watsonville has the greatest number of cases of cities in Santa Cruz County, about 1,615 as of Oct. 28, followed by the city of Santa Cruz, with 564 cases. 

City on a Hill Press is currently investigating COVID-19 in Watsonville. 


As of Tuesday, Oct. 27, there is one active case linked to the UCSC community. The case was reported by the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, and the patient resides off campus in Santa Cruz. UCSC declined to give further information to protect the patient’s privacy.

UCSC is not a source of positive cases because the campus is testing students who live on campus once a week, even if they’re asymptomatic, said Jason Hoppin, the communication manager for the County of Santa Cruz.  

The Molecular Diagnostic Lab at UCSC, which processes tests for both the campus community and certain health providers across the city of Santa Cruz, will potentially double its current testing capacity of 500-600 tests a day in a few weeks, according to Mimi Hall, the Health Services Agency Director for the Santa Cruz County.

UCSC still plans to continue its online instruction through winter 2021, according to an Oct. 6 press release. No announcements have been made for spring quarter at time of publication.

“I think having the conservative approach we’ve taken [is] not ideal, but we’re seeing that it’s working,” said UCSC director of news and media relations Scott Hernandez-Jason. “I hope that people recognize that in everything we’re doing, we’re taking the health and well-being of our campus community first, and looking through that lens of what’s best for everyone.”