The You & Me COVID-Free program, which provides communities with access to free, rapid COVID-19 test kits to use at home as needed, has launched in Merced County.
Test kits are available for pickup at multiple community locations for a limited time. This includes the Merced Elks Lodge at 1910 M Street in Merced on Tuesday, Nov. 23, from 4:30 p.m.- 9 p.m. Stay tuned for other dates and locations.
The program encourages residents to use the tests, even if they don’t have symptoms, prior to holiday gatherings to protect loved ones and the community.
“We are thrilled that You & Me COVID-Free has arrived in our community and is able to offer residents an added layer of protection,” said Manuel Alvarado, Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Merced County, which is serving as the program’s lead community partner for the area. “Testing remains critically important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, particularly as we enter the holiday season. I hope Merced County residents will take advantage of this opportunity to help all of us stay healthy and feel more secure for the holidays.”
Test kits provided by You & Me COVID-Free are designed to be quick and easy to use, with results that can be read privately at home in just minutes. The program encourages everyone to test before gatherings, including fully vaccinated people, who still have a chance of becoming infected and spreading the virus. The tests are also great to have on hand in case of an exposure or symptoms. By identifying infection early, those who test positive can isolate sooner to minimize spread.
“While getting vaccinated remains the single most effective action to prevent COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, at-home testing is an additional resource to help our community stay safe,” said Robert Hypes, Community Impacts Manager for United Way of Merced County. “Combining protective measures offers our best defense against COVID-19. Everyone in Merced County should get a free test kit to confirm they’re infection-free before spending time with others over the holidays. Let’s protect those most precious to us: our loved ones and families.”
You & Me COVID-Free is an initiative from the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program, and is led by the Duke Clinical Research Institute and the Center for Health Equity Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in strong partnership with Community-Campus Partnerships for Health. Organizations throughout Merced County are coming together to support test kit distribution.
Residents can visit the distribution event below to get their free test kits. To see a full list of pickup locations and distribution events, visit YouAndMeCovidFree.org. Distribution will continue until the end of the year, while supplies last.