Google Sister Company Corrects Trump On Coronavirus Website Claims

The president said Google has made tremendous progress, but the website Google's sister company Verily is developing is still in early stages and to be rolled out initially only in the San Francisco Bay area, with hopes of later expansion.


Verily Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, is planning to build a website to help triage patients potentially infected with coronavirus, not Google itself, as President Donald Trump claimed Friday at a press conference in which he declared the pandemic a national emergency.

Despite the president’s statement to the nation that Google has “made tremendous progress” on a site that will help people determine whether they should seek a test, Verily said the tool it is developing for Covid-19 testing is in the early stages of development.

That tool will first be rolled out only in the San Francisco Bay Area, “with the hopes of expanding more broadly.”

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[Related: Google Urges North American Staff To Work From Home To Reduce Coronavirus Risk]

Verily is working with California health authorities to make testing available, the company said, and has been in discussions with government officials and potential industry partners.

Statement from Verily: "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.

— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) March 13, 2020

Verily thanked Google engineers who volunteered to help its development effort, though did not mention if there are 1,700 engineers at work on the project, as the president claimed Friday. CRN has reached out to Verily to find out if that number is accurate.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a call for volunteers in a memo days ago.

The Verily site will be much smaller than the one suggested by the president in his White House news conference.

The Verge reported that the website wasn’t even intended for the general public, but only health care workers.

But it’s unexpected presidential reveal has led the company decide to try to make it accessible to all, Verily spokesperson Carolyn Wang told The Verge.

All that tool will do is direct people to “pilot sites” where they can be tested around San Francisco, and maybe later on expanded beyond California.

Wang said the site, hosted by Verily’s clinical trial website Project Baseline, should go live in a few days.

Key to the US response to the coronavirus is making sure that only citizens that meet certain criteria take the coronavirus test, said Trump.

“We don’t want everybody taking this test,” he said. “It is totally unnecessary. This will pass. This will pass and we are going to be even stronger for it.”