Verily Launches COVID-19 Screening Site for San Francisco Residents

Alphabet Inc.’s research organization Verily launched a website to provide information about coronavirus screening in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Starting today, Californians can take an online COVID-19 screener survey, hosted by Verily’s Project Baseline.

Those who meet eligibility and requirements are then directed to mobile sites for a nasal swab test.

The pilot is currently testing only the highest risk individuals at select sites in San Francisco; as more testing kits and sites become available, Verily intends to scale up its program.

“Ultimately, our goal is to help local authorities expand testing access in California as the need continues to increase,” the Alphabet subsidiary said in a blog post.

Verily is collaborating with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office, federal authorities, and local public health authorities to help more people in the coming weeks.

“We hope that this partnership can scale and we believe it will be a national model,” Newsom said at a Sunday press conference.

U.S. residents aged 18 and older in the Bay Area can get screened online: Simply create an account, complete a permission form, and take the brief survey.

Answering “yes” to the first query—”Are you currently experiencing severe cough, shortness of breath, fever, or other concerning symptoms?”—ends the test, while “no” advances it.

On the surface, this seems counterintuitive. But Verily confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the screener is in fact working as intended.

“The initial question is meant to ensure that anyone who is seriously ill does not come to our sites because they are not prepared to provide medical attention,” the firm said.

Based on the survey responses and appointment availability (which, at this point, is basically nonexistent), you will learn whether you qualify for testing through the program.

Current testing sites are located in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County.

“We are early in this pilot,” Verily said, “and going to be learning more that will help us refine this COVID-19 risk screening.”

Today’s launch follows mass confusion about the project and its scope.

Amidst the chaos of a global pandemic, Donald Trump on Friday announced that Google is working with the White House and private sector partners on a website to give people information about novel coronavirus testing.

Google later tweeted that Verily is “developing a tool to help triage individuals for COVID-19 testing.”

So far, so good.

But divergent facts—Trump said 1,700 Google engineers were working on the project, but Verily only has about 1,000 employees—suggested the president “oversold” and “inflated” the concept, The New York Times reported.

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