Google developing a tool to help triage individuals for Covid-19 testing

President Trump & executives announced that Google has been tapped to build a website to help determine if and where people should get tested for the virus & retailers would set up drive-through testing in parking lots.

“I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website,” the president said. Then, in an apparent swipe at the disastrous launch of healthcare.gov under former President Barack Obama, Trump said.



“It’s gonna be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past.” He said the website would serve to “determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location.”

“Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now. They’ve made tremendous progress,” Trump said.




“Our overriding goal is to stop the spread of the virus.” The White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, Deborah Birx, held up a flowchart showing how users would be screened for risk factors.

In response to President Donald Trump’s announcement the CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that Google is working with the US government on the informational site. The website will contain educational material and “best practices for prevention,” and will launch late Monday.




An administration presentation showed a potential user would be asked several questions on the website and then given a recommendation as to whether they should get a coronavirus test.

Those requiring a test would be referred to a store that can provide assistance, potentially including a drive-through test, as per the administration’s presentation. Results would be available online in 24 to 36 hours.

Verily, a healthcare tech company also owned by Alphabet, acknowledged that it is set to launch a website that will allow users to plug in their symptoms and be directed to testing sites if necessary.

Verily said it was leading the effort to develop the web tool, with the help of an undisclosed number of Google employees. But the company also made clear that the website, known as Project Baseline, will be restricted to California residents for now and is not ready for nationwide service.

Alphabet also confirmed this & said it intended to launch a small-scale website next week to begin to triage California-based patients. The website will aim to serve a broader population only “overtime”.

In a statement posted to a Twitter account for Google’s communications team more than an hour after Trump’s speech, the company said, “We are developing a tool to help triage individuals for COVID-19 testing.

Verily is in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time.” That appeared to be a far cry from what Trump described.

Carolyn Wang, communications lead for Verily, told The Verge it had been developing a “triage website” for health care workers, not the general public, but will now switch gears in light of the announcement.

Wang added that Verily was “collaborating closely with organizations like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp who are also working on additional approaches to making testing more accessible and expedient in other areas.”

Verily did not respond to questions on how data submitted by website visitors would be protected and used.

The Vice President of the United States Mike Pence suggests that Google’s nationwide website would soon help make “hundreds of thousands of tests” possible “in the very near future.

“For Americans looking on,” said Pence, “by this Sunday evening, we’ll be able to give specific guidance on when the website will be available, you can go to the website, as the president said, you type in your symptoms and be given direction whether or not a test is indicated.”

“And then at the same website,” he continued, “you’ll be directed to one of these incredible companies that are going to give a little bit of their parking lot so that people can come by and do a drive-by test.

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