A week ago, President Donald Trump held a press conference claiming that Google was creating a corona virus screening website that would direct people to test sites. As we found out in the following days, that was not true. Google’s sister company, Verily, launched such a website, but only for the Bay Area. Only a very small number of people have reportedly been offered tests. However, Google has announced it will launch a website and after a slight delay it is here.
In addition to the website, and possibly more importantly, Google will provide advanced information cards for people searching for terms related to the corona virus. Information tabs for symptoms, prevention, global statics, and locally relevant information are displayed. It will look a bit like this:
The website is located at google.com/covid19. It has useful resources, including a map that mimics what you see above. Google’s post, which announces the website, states that you can find "government information, safety and prevention tips, COVID-19 search trends, and other resources for individuals, educators, and businesses." Google emphasizes that information is obtained from "authoritative" sources such as the WHO and the CDC.
It is currently only available in English, but a Google spokesman tells The Verge that support for the Spanish language will follow soon. The website has also been designed with accessibility in mind, including the larger fonts that Google normally uses.
The website includes videos in ASL, a global map of confirmed cases by country, and lots of information about Google’s other relief efforts, as well as some YouTube well-being videos.
However, if you read this description, you will find that it does not contain what Trump originally claimed. Finding a test is closest to a drop-down menu that contains links to local websites. For example, if you select California, you will receive a link to the California Department of Health.
The CDC currently has a chatbot for self-checking, which Microsoft helped build. However, the WSJ quoted a healthcare provider executive who put a realistic context: "It's just something consumers now need to help relieve anxiety."
In other words, many large technology companies are looking for support related to corona viruses, but none of them can solve some of the biggest problems of the pandemic: access to testing and the impending crisis in our health infrastructure.
At a later date, Google may provide a questionnaire and information about local transit test locations. However, a spokesman says that the company will only do this if relevant and trustworthy information is available on these websites. Unfortunately, that could take a long time.