Google is currently working on a coronavirus (COVID-19) information site that will try to assist people in the United States to check their symptoms, find out about testing and monitor the overall spread of the virus in the region, as well as stay up to date with what authorities disseminate into the public.
The firm has frantically been working on said site, due to some misinformation that the Trump administration shared last week, with the US president in particular incorrectly stating what the site could do and who would be able to access it.
At the time, one of Google’s sister companies, Verily, had a small site up and running to service people living in the Bay area of San Francisco, which is what Trump was incorrectly referring to.
As a result, it has had to spin up a site to deliver upon what the Trump administration has said, and the site is expected to launch later this week after running into a few issues resulting in a slight delay.
A Google spokesperson has told The Verge that it needed to delay the launch as so much has happened in the past 24 hours, so the company wanted to ensure it had the most up-to-date information as to what needed to built into the site.
To that end it looks unlikely that the site will feature the nationwide screening that the Trump administration has been referring to, with the site instead providing “authoritative” information of screening and testing. As such it will not serve as a one-stop shop for those in the US to receive treatment for COVID-19.
The firm also provided clarity on Verily, its pilot website and what is being planned in future.
“Verily launched a pilot website late Sunday to counties in the Bay Area, and is working with authorities to scale this effort further. With local and national guidance evolving rapidly, Google will continue working with relevant agencies and authorities to roll out a website later this week that will surface authoritative information for people in the U.S., including on screening and testing,” explained the company in a statement.
While we wait for the site to be launched, along with a precise understanding of what it will and will not be able to facilitate, closer to home the Department of Health launched its own information site at the weekend.
This was alongside a dedicated WhatsApp for COVID-19, and much like Google’s proposed site, the local one is also sharing the latest press releases and statistics regarding the spread of the virus in the country.
Either way it appears as if the go-to course of action now is social distancing and working remotely if possible.