A new pilot project designed to guide people toward local coronavirus testing developed by Google’s health-focused sister company, Verily, hit its capacity for test appointments within a few hours of its unveiling, according to a report from The New York Times.
The website, run under Verily’s Project Baseline endeavor, includes a screening survey to gather information on a person’s age and symptoms and directs qualifying respondents to free, drive-through testing locations for a nasal swab. It is initially being rolled out to two California counties.
“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,” Verily said in a company blog post. “As more testing kits and sites become available, we plan to scale the capacity.”
Verily said it is working with state and federal authorities to establish additional testing locations and gather operating guidance from public health officials. The project is not intended to provide acute medical care.
The online tool was first touted by President Donald Trump in a press conference last Friday, though details regarding its capabilities, nationwide reach and overall progress were exaggerated. Afterward, Verily clarified that it was in the early stages of a narrow pilot project.
Elsewhere, Google said it is developing a resource for COVID-19 education and local information, including links on its homepages to best practices on prevention and guidance from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tech giant is also committing at least $50 million in donations to response efforts through its philanthropic arm.