MERCER COUNTY, NJ -- Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes announced on Wednesday that the county will be providing free at-home COVID-19 (coronavirus) testing for certain residents. The program will be open to Mercer County residents who are age 14 or older and individuals who are first responders or health care workers in the County.

“Testing for COVID-19 is necessary to identify and be able to isolate people with infections,” Hughes said. “We expected fall to be a critical period with the arrival of cooler weather, and we’re already seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout much of the state. I encourage anyone who is symptomatic or thinks they may have been exposed to the virus to take advantage of this convenient option of testing at home.”

Qualified individuals can sign up to receive a free COVID-19 saliva test to be administered at home through a partnership between the County and Vault Health Services of New Jersey. 

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The saliva collection test for COVID-19 has the same effectiveness as the nasal swab test. It is not an antibody test, but rather is designed to determine if an individual is currently infected with COVID-19 and has the potential to infect others. This test is performed under the supervision of a Vault healthcare provider through a video telehealth visit, eliminating the risk of person-to-person exposure to the virus. 

In addition, the County soon will begin offering COVID-19 testing at pop-up mobile sites that visit different municipalities, also in partnership with Vault Health Services.

Individuals who wish to be tested should visit www.mercercares.org to register where they will be required to provide proof of residency or employment. When registering, individuals should have their health insurance card handy, but a lack of insurance will not prevent someone from using at-home COVID-19 testing. Federal rules require the collection of insurance information to support the testing program. Under federal law, all forms of public and private insurance must cover FDA-approved COVID-19 tests with no out-of-pocket costs to insured persons.

After eligibility is verified, they will receive a digital link to Vault’s webpage to request a county-funded test kit.  The kit will be shipped overnight with instructions on how to schedule a Zoom telehealth meeting with a certified healthcare worker who will virtually instruct you about how to properly collect a saliva sample for shipment to the Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory for testing.

Test results are expected to be returned within 72 hours. If a test is positive, or if individuals experience symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache or others listed by the CDC, they should contact a health care professional.

Any questions about the at-home testing program can be directed to HomeTesting@mercercounty.org.

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