Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a coronavirus that had not been identified prior to 2020. The virus that causes COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and usually cause mild illness, like the common cold. COVID-19 is still in the community but has gone from pandemic to endemic - cases are still occurring in the community, with much less frequency and severity, largely due in part to vaccination programs and the newer, less virulent variants of the virus. Those still at risk for more serious illness include the elderly, those with preexisting medical conditions (diabetes, COPD, other immune or respiratory conditions, etc.), and unvaccinated residents. See the current U.S. case count of COVID-19. 

How does COVID-19 spread?

Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. CDC recommends that patients who are sick be isolated at home and use home tests for COVID-19 as indicated (or if more serious symptoms occur, contact your doctor to see if hospital care is recommended).  To note, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How can I help prevent COVID-19 from spreading?

Santa Cruz County Public Health strongly urges community members to take precautions to help prevent the spread of illness:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, rubbing for at least 20 seconds;
  • Use at least 60% alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available;
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand, or use a tissue and discard;
  • Maintain ventilation improvements in indoor spaces (open doors and windows, ventilation fans, etc.);
  • Avoid shaking hands;
  • Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands;
  • Consider masking in high-traffic enclosed areas, or if recently exposed to COVID-19;
  • Regularly clean surfaces touched by many people using normal household cleaners;
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick; and has similar symptoms to COVID-19;
  • If you are at high risk of getting very sick, talk with your healthcare provider about additional prevention actions.

CDC Ventilation Guidance 2023

(photo from

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included: fever, chills, cough, and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include decreased sense of smell, headaches, extreme fatigue or body aches.  COVID-19 symptoms can often feel like a common cold, seasonal allergies or flu. Some people may have pneumonia or more serious illness.

How can I prepare for possible disruption caused by an outbreak?

  • Make sure your emergency preparedness kit is up to date. Stock additional supplies if possible. Visit for an Emergency Supply List and other preparedness materials
  • Obtain two to three months’ supply of your critical prescriptions.  Stock up on essential medication for all family members.
  • Prepare to work from home if possible.
  • Prepare a childcare plan if you or a caregiver are sick.
  • Make arrangements to manage a school dismissal of at least two weeks.
  • Plan for how you can care for a sick family member without getting sick yourself.
  • Take care of each other and check in by phone with friends, family and neighbors that are vulnerable to serious illness or death if they get COVID-19.
  • Keep common spaces clean to help maintain a healthy environment for you and others. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly with disinfecting sprays, wipes or common household cleaning products.

Where can I get the latest information for the status of COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County?

The County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency provides the most up-to-date and relevant information for the status of the COVID-19 outbreak in Santa Cruz County.  

Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Coronavirus Resources Page


Call 211 or text "COVID19" to 211211.

Other Resources