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In declaring a national emergency due to COVID-19, President Donald Trump and other officials yesterday revealed that Google was building an online tool. After some confusion — partly due to the Alphabet corporate structure, Google today announced that it’s building a new “nationwide website” — but only to provide information about the coronavirus.

Google proper — instead of Verily — issued a statement on Saturday afternoon:

“We are fully aligned and continue to work with the US Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, inform citizens, and protect the health of our communities. Google is partnering with the US Government in developing a nationwide website that includes information about COVID-19 symptoms, risk and testing information.

Yesterday, the company appeared to be blindsided by the President’s announcement, with the narrative quickly emerging that Verily — a seperate company focussed on life sciences under Alphabet — is building a site.

At that, the website Verily briefly detailed is only to “help triage individuals for Covid-19 testing” in the Bay Area by directing them to coronavirus testing facilities.

It’s not the more ambitious website described by US officials as offering a symptoms questionnaire and — when warranted — directing people to a “drive thru” clinic. The most significant capability would have been the ability to return the results of coronavirus testing after users log-in.

Google coronavirus screening website

Website described by US gov. on Friday

What Google announced today is also not the website described by Trump. However, it is explicitly “in addition to” what Verily is doing. This new effort will include “information about COVID-19 symptoms, risk and testing information.” The company did not reveal when it would become available.

It essentially sounds like an informational website; not the more complex screening website promised yesterday. That said, Google’s scale should help ensure the resources are widely discoverable and stay online in response to high traffic.

Google also took this afternoon to detail its other efforts:

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: