Verily's COVID-19 community testing project now reaches 130 cities nationwide

coronavirus test tubes
Demand is high, and Verily said more of its test kits have become available, allowing screening efforts to reach people beyond those determined to be at a high risk for the novel coronavirus. (Getty/RossHelen)

Verily announced that its COVID-19 testing program has been expanded to more than 130 cities and towns across the U.S. and has provided over 256,000 tests through a growing network of public and private partners.

After first launching at two California sites in mid-March, Google’s life sciences-focused sister company said it has received more than 270,000 requests from state residents through its online screening tool.

At that time, the website had quickly reached its capacity for scheduling testing appointments at its initial locations near San Francisco and San Jose. Since then, Verily has opened more than 40 community testing sites in California alone in coordination with state and local public health officials, the company said in a statement.

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And though demand is still high, more kits have become available, allowing testing efforts to reach broader groups of people outside of those determined to be at a high risk for the novel coronavirus.

"When local, state and national public health officials asked companies what they could do to help the pandemic efforts, Verily was pleased to be able to step forward along with volunteers and partners across the nation,” Jessica Mega, Verily’s chief medical and scientific officer, said to Fierce MedTech. “Additionally, we shared our learnings in a community-based testing guide to help others ramp up their efforts."

Verily also said it is working to transition its sites to self-performed tests, using a nasal swab with a built-in stopper that tells users when they’ve gone far enough into the nostril. Allowing people to collect a sample themselves—under guidance while they stay inside their own car, as an example—could help reduce the risk to staff and avoid the use of scarce personal protective equipment.

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These self-collected tests, using mid-turbinate swabs, are currently being employed by Verily’s partner Rite Aid, which is now operating at least 92 testing sites through its retail pharmacies and locations in 12 states in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile, Verily has also been working with the California Coronavirus Testing Task Force to bring mobile testing units to rural areas in the state in collaboration with veteran-led disaster relief organization Team Rubicon.

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