UC Santa Cruz, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County partner to expand access to COVID-19 testing

By working with local nonprofit health centers, the partnership will ensure that county residents will be able to get a COVID-19 test, regardless of their ability to pay.
shj@ucsc.edu (Scott Hernandez-Jason)

UC Santa Cruz and Community Foundation Santa Cruz County are partnering to ensure the area’s low-income and vulnerable residents have access to rapid COVID-19 testing.

The campus is testing 200-400 samples every week collected by Salud Para la Gente and Santa Cruz Community Health. UCSC is providing the tests on a cost recovery basis and Community Foundation Santa Cruz County will be paying for the cost of the tests.

“COVID-19 continues to affect our most chronically underserved and vulnerable populations nationally and locally. The Community Foundation is honored to partner with front line health care providers and UC Santa Cruz to ramp up testing for people at highest risk. Over the past four months, we continue to forge new partnerships that meet the needs of those most impacted by COVID-19.” said Susan True, CEO of the Community Foundation.

UC Santa Cruz’s Molecular Diagnostic Lab received state approval for COVID-19 testing on May 1 and began running tests for Santa Cruz Community Health and the campus student health center. Researchers have been working to steadily increase testing capacity for Santa Cruz County to support efforts to detect the virus and reduce its spread.

With added capacity—the lab is now running 500 to 600 tests every week—the campus is ready to work with more local health care providers, said Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer.

“Slowing and stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires that we all work together,” Kletzer said. “This partnership plays to the strengths of UC Santa Cruz, the Community Foundation, and our dedicated county health care providers.”

By working with local nonprofit health centers, the partnership will ensure that county residents will be able to get a COVID-19 test, regardless of their ability to pay.

Combined, the two nonprofit health centers provide care for about 39,000 Santa Cruz County residents.

“Public health data tells us the Pajaro Valley and the Latinx community are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said Dori Rose Inda, chief executive officer for Salud Para La Gente. “Salud Para La Gente is committed to ensuring our patients and community have the best opportunity to be healthy during the pandemic.”

“COVID-19 testing is a vital part of that commitment and Santa Cruz Community Foundation and UCSC Molecular Diagnostic Lab’s partnership makes it possible to reach many with testing. This will support many more to remain safe, protect themselves and their loved ones, and return to work sooner and safer.”

Following the announcement of school closures on March 12, the Community Foundation started the COVID-19 Local Response Fund and has provided more than $2 million in local response grants and more than $5 million in donor advised grants for a total of over $7 million in COVID-19 relief funding.

Local nonprofit partners are immediately putting funds to work and 100 percent of gifts go directly to help residents of the county. In addition to relief funding, The Community Foundation has been working to support recovery efforts through funding the director of community recovery position for the SAVE Lives Santa Cruz County effort and leading the Economic Recovery Council with local business leaders and county public health officials.