Mercer County provides residents with free at-home tests for COVID-19

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Mercer County residents will now be able to receive free at-home tests for COVID-19.

Through a partnership with Vault Medical Services of New Jersey, county residents, first responders and healthcare workers can sign up for a free at-home saliva collection test to determine if an individual is infected with COVID-19.

The county is providing the at home option after a service contract was approved by the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders for close to $358,000 in late September. The contract is being funded by a grant from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

“We can’t put a number on how many tests will be available, but Mercer County will continue to offer testing for COVID-19 until our grant funding runs out,” said Michael Boonin, Deputy director of communications. “One state grant covers the current contract the county has for at-home and pop-up testing, which is with Vault Medical Services. We plan on extending testing through an additional state grant.”

Saliva tests for residents are only available for people 14 years of age and older and is not an antibody test, according to the county. The tests will be conducted with supervision of a Zoom video telehealth visit by a Vault healthcare provider.

Once the saliva is collected it is to be shipped to Rutgers Clinical Genomic Laboratory in Piscataway for testing with results expected and returned in 72 hours.

“After the at-home testing program was launched last week, some people requested multiple test kits. We want to clarify that an individual can request only one test kit at a time,” Boonin said. “We’re still working on determining the maximum number of test kits that an individual can request over a set period of time. We’re planning to post an FAQ on the county website that answers the questions people might have about the current testing program.”

Individuals who seek to request one of the saliva testing kits must be able to provide proof of residency or employment.

The partnership with Vault Medical Services does not end with the at-home saliva tests kits, but will continue in an additional capacity with COVID-19 testing occurring at mobile testing sites.

The mobile sites are being designed to visit various municipalities in the county.

“The county hopes to get a pop-up mobile site started within the next two weeks. County Executive Brian Hughes wants to target underserved areas of the county, as we did when pop-up sites were part of the testing program the county provided in the spring,” Boonin said. “At that time, pop-up sites were offered in pockets of the City of Trenton and in Hightstown.”