Nearly 24 hours after Google denied claims made by United States President Donald Trump, it has now announced on March 15 that the company is “partnering” with the US government to create a national website with the information about coronavirus symptoms and testing information. In a series of tweets by Google communications, it, however, did not mention the time frame of when such a website would be functional.
“We are fully aligned and continue to work with the US Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, inform citizens, and protect the health of our communities. (1/6) https://t.co/eI1uXra6AB— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) March 15, 2020
“Google is partnering with the US Government in developing a nationwide website that includes information about COVID-19 symptoms, risk and testing information. (2/6)— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) March 15, 2020
On March 13, Trump had said in a White House briefing that Alphabet Inc with the help of the engineers at Google are creating a website which will enable people to check whether they have symptoms of the deadly COVID-19 which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. However, the company had declined to say it would be publishing a national-scale website for COVID-19 testing anytime soon.
Instead, a health focussed subsidiary owned by Google's parent company, Verily said that it intended to launch a small-scale website next week to begin a trial on California-based patients. Moreover, the website in concern will serve a broader population only “overtime” and not “very quickly”. In another tweet on March 14, the company even mentioned the pilot website in San Francisco.
According to reports, a spokesperson for Verily, Carolyn Wang called it a “triage tool” that will live on ProjectBaseline.com and expressed the plan to pilot it in California next week. She further added the company's “aspiration” is for a tool which can be used more broadly with time and mentioned it collaborations with organisations like Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp who are reportedly working on additional approaches so that the testing can be made “more accessible and expedient”.
However, Verily's official statement lied in sharp contrast with what the US President had claimed on March 14 and said “Google is helping develop a website. It's going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location." According to reports, these statements by Trump made reference to the failed rollout of Healthcare.gov, which is the website used for the US government's health insurance exchange and was premiered by former US President Barack Obama's administration.