Free COVID-19 testing Saturday in Gustine

The Merced County Department of Public Health has scheduled COVID-19 testing at a number of mobile testing sites.

A testing site will be offered Saturday, Sept. 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Al Goman Community Center in Gustine.

Tests are available to all Merced County residents free of charge. Advance registration and same-day registration for the mobile sites can be made online at Walk-in appointments are also welcome.

Merced County public health officials encourage residents to test for COVID-19 if they are experiencing any symptoms or have potentially been exposed to an individual who has tested positive.

“The department wants to ensure that all residents in Merced County have access to COVID-19 testing,” said Dr. Salvador Sandoval, the department’s health officer. “We have increased our testing capacity to expand our reach and eliminate barriers to testing such as assessibility. We hope that more individuals will receive testing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and subsequently facilitate the reopening and recovery of our county.”

The mobile testing sites are in addition to other testing sites located throughout Merced County.

For more information on COVID-19 and additional testing locations, visit

Newman declares election result

The Newman City Council last week declared the results of Measure R, a proposal to bring 121 acres of land into the city as the first phase of the city’s planned Northwest Newman project.

The measure, decided by registered voters living within the affected area west of Highway 33, failed by a 21-3 margin - halting the proposed annexation.

But council members signaled their desire to re-shape the proposed annexation and try again to bring in land to start development in the Northwest Newman master plan area, which in total encompasses about 360 acres of property west of Highway 33 and stretches northward from the existing city limits to Stuhr Road.

“I know we lost the election,” said council member Nick Candea. “Is there a way to continue the project that excludes (opposition) properties?”

That may well be the case, said City Manager Michael Holland.

“The path going forward is to identify property owners that want to be part of the annexation, and then we exclude property owners who are not interested,” Holland commented. “If they are not interested, we can go forward without them.”

Holland said he has spoken with some landowners and believes there is enough interest from willing property owners to start development of a job-generating business park and perhaps start planning for future residential uses.

The overall Northwest Newman plan is a mix of commercial, business park and residential land uses.

Holland said he could reach out to property owners to determine levels of interest, and return to the council with additional information. Holland reported Monday that he has sent out letters to property owners to garner that information.

Council members indicated by consensus that they hope to see the project move forward in some format.

“That project is so important to the future of Newman,” commented Mayor Bob Martina. “We don’t want to grow too fast, but we need to grow to keep alive. Keep that project going.”

Newman, Gustine case counts

The city of Newman had recorded 319 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, while the Gustine community had seen its case count climb to 226.

At the end of August, Newman’s case count stood at 291. Gustine had 211 confirmed cases at that time.

The Gustine count includes all people who listed a Gustine address, not just those living in the city proper.

The data, which can be found on the Merced County Public Health and Stanislaus County Health Services Agency websites, reflects the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic, not currently active cases.

West Side weather

Newman resident Marge Carvalho, an observer for the National Weather Service, reported the following high/low temperatures for the past week. Readings for the previous 24-hour period are taken at 5 p.m. daily.

Monday, Sept. 7: 112/72

Tuesday, Sept. 8: 109/72

Wednesday, Sept. 9: 96/61

Thursday, Sept. 10: 84/59

Friday, Sept. 11: 92/58

Saturday, Sept. 12: 96/57

Sunday, Sept. 13: 94/61