An online portal to help people determine if they need to be tested for the coronavirus was developed on Monday (March 16) as a pilot in San Francisco by Verily, a sibling of Google and parent Alphabet.
The website is first rolling out to residents living in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties with upcoming expansion plans to the Central Valley and other counties.
The portal enables anyone with coronavirus symptoms or who was near someone infected to determine if they should be tested and where they can go for testing. Tests are not yet widely available.
“We’re partnering with the U.S. government in developing a website dedicated to COVID-19 education, prevention, and local resources nationwide. This includes best practices on prevention, links to authoritative information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and helpful tips and tools from Google for individuals, teachers and businesses,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement on Sunday (March 15). “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.”
The online screening will be available to U.S. residents aged 18 or older who have a Google Account and are willing to share health information with Google. Users must also live in a county where testing is available and be willing to sign a COVID-19 Public Health authorization form, according to the website.
The site was launched as an integration of Verity’s Project Baseline, a health technology portal connecting potential participants with medical research studies, among other things.
“To protect the most vulnerable, the COVID-19 testing pilot program will begin by testing the highest risk individuals at select sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there is a significant volume of known cases. As more testing kits and sites become available, we plan to scale the capacity,” according to a Verily blog post.
Verily said it will maintain “high privacy standards” and that data will be stored “in Verily’s possession” with advanced with security. It said no information will be shared for advertising purposes, nor shared with insurance companies or medical providers without a individual’s consent.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association said that merchants like Walmart, Target, Walgreens and CVS are ready to work with the government to roll out drive-through coronavirus testing.