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Yolo County's vending machines dispense COVID tests, but other resources are also in talks

Over 51,000 test kits have been given out for free, and soon, the machines will offer N95 masks. The future of the machine is already in discussion.

DAVIS, California — People in Yolo County will soon have a another way to get COVID-19 tests after a vending machine dispensing them gets installed in Woodland Friday.

It comes as both Sacramento and Yolo counties sit at a medium level of community transmission. 

Over 51,000 test kits have been given out for free since the program started in July. For Katrina Laws-Ewald, she gets to see people use one of the machines every day while working inside the Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch Library for youth services.

“I’ve noticed people are taking what they need. It doesn’t feel like anyone is trying to exploit the system,” said Laws-Ewald.

It's a simple process to get a test. Visit a COVID-19 test kit vending machine, punch in the number of the item you want and watch the free test kit be dispensed.

Betsie Cialino, the infectious disease control manager for Yolo County, said it was designed with the idea that no contact has to be made and that the kits are accessible 24/7.

“A really powerful prevention tool that lets you know when you are infectious and when you need to stay home," said Cialino, about the test kits. "So with that number of test kits going out, our assumption is it’s been really useful for letting people know when to stay home.”

Demand was high around the holidays, but they restock the machines three times a week.

“Our hope is that it continues to be something that is focused on equity and accessibility, and now that people know they are here, people will continue to rely on them for helpful health prevention tools,” said Cialino.

Soon, the machines will offer N95 masks, but the future of the machine is already in discussion.

“Mosquito repellent, sunscreen, condoms, pregnancy test, STI (sexually transmitted infections) test or overdose reversal drugs like naloxone,” said Cialin, describing topics of discussion..

The machines are paid for by COVID-19 response funds and public health funding. The county hopes to transition the machines to offer more resources once the demand for COVID tests goes down.


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