Verily, an Alphabet subsidiary, is collaborating with the California Governor’s office, federal, state and local public health authorities, to help people in the Bay Area with COVID-19 screening.
Through its new site, which is part of a larger health initiative called Project Baseline, people residing in California can sign up to get tested for COVID-19 at no charge. At present, it’s only available to folks living in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County.
President Trump erroneously announced last week that Google was building making a site to help people get tested across the US. However, it’s Verily, not Google, which has built the site. The search giant is also building a US-focused site related to coronavirus,but rather than help with screening, this one will will contain information related to the disease, including symptoms and risks.
The Project Baseline first asks you to sign in with your Google account — which has raised some eyebrows as it seems like a privacy risk — to complete an online screener with basic health-related questions. Once you complete that, you’ll get the results via email; if you’re eligible for a test, the company will ask you to visit your nearest center for a free checkup at an allotted time.
To use the Google/Verily screening program to see if you’re eligible for COVID-19 testing, you have to create a Google account or connect it your existing Google account.
This is both a barrier to entry and a major privacy problem pic.twitter.com/L9j5ZDIFGp
— Natasha Singer (@natashanyt) March 16, 2020
The FAQ on the site clarifies that all your data will be stored in an encrypted format, and won’t be shared with advertisers.
The site experience doesn’t seem to be consistent for all at the moment. Some people said they just saw one question in the survey, and some said they’re being told they’re ineligible for a test, even after they answered questions stating that they had symptoms of coronavirus.
— Daisuke Wakabayashi (@daiwaka) March 16, 2020
Hopefully, the project team at Verily will squish out these anomalies soon so people can have a safe and more consistent experience on the site.