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Alphabet-owned Verily pilots a coronavirus screening website in California

Google’s life sciences research sister company, Verily, is debuting a coronavirus risk screening and testing website in California — three days after President Donald Trump claimed Google was doing so during a Rose Garden press conference. The online tool will triage people and direct those who meet eligibility and requirements to mobile testing sites.

Developed in collaboration with the state of California, Verily’s service is available through its existing Project Baseline health platform and website. But for now, it’s restricted to just two counties in Northern California, Santa Clara County, and San Mateo County. Verily, however, intends to eventually “scale the capacity” as more testing kits and sites become available.

Google Verily coronavirus testing website
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Ultimately, our goal is to help local authorities expand testing access in California as the need continues to increase. The program is in its early stages, and we will take the time to assess operations at pilot sites in the Bay Area before rolling out to additional sites. We are working closely with Governor [Gavin] Newsom’s office, federal authorities, and local public health authorities to ensure we have the right capabilities in place to help more people over the coming weeks,” the company wrote in a blog post.

To be eligible, users should be at least 18 years old and have a Google account. Through a multistep process, the tool lets Californians take a screener survey that asks people, for instance, what symptoms they’re experiencing and their travel history. If someone meets the criteria, they will be recommended to seek medical assistance from one of the available mobile testing centers based on the capacity. Once patients have completed a nasal swab test, they “will be informed of their COVID-19 test results within a few days.”

Verily assures that “your information will not be used for advertising,” although it’s worth noting that you will end up sharing your data with a range of organizations. The website’s terms and conditions state that the personal information users punch in during the screening process, in addition to various government and health authorities, “may also be shared with certain service providers engaged to perform services on behalf of Verily, including Google, which Verily leverages for certain technology and services, including cloud services, security services, data storage, website hosting, and other support functions.”

There’s a lot of uncertainty around Trump’s Rose Garden address and for good reason. That is because Google and its sister health company, Verily are both developing two separate coronavirus-related websites. While the latter is launching a triage tool, Google is building a simple awareness website that “that includes information about COVID-19 symptoms, risk and testing information.” What Trump promised falls more in line with Verily’s solution, but it’s not nationwide, nor is it being developed by 1,700 people.

Shubham Agarwal
Shubham Agarwal is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India. His work has previously appeared in Firstpost…
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