Google's development of a website that will help Americans find a coronavirus testing center may be slower than President Trump hopes.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company expects to introduce a small-scale site next week for California-based patients that will gradually expand to serve a broader population. The website, which Trump said had a workforce of 1,700 engineers and would be available "very quickly," was one of several measures the White House announced Friday to combat the pandemic, which has sickened more than 132,000 people and killed 4,900 -- most in China.
"What we're building is a triage tool that will live on ProjectBaseline.com, and we plan to pilot it in California next week," said Carolyn Wang, a spokesperson for the search-engine company's subsidiary Verily.
Little information is available on how the system would work but officials at the news conference said it would let people enter their symptoms to determine whether a test is needed, and if so, help them find a nearby site.
"Our aspiration is for the triage tool to be used much more broadly over time," Wang said. "Initially, we're linking it with several sites in the Bay Area to test and iterate, and collaborating closely with organizations like Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp, who are also working on additional approaches to making testing more accessible and expedient in other areas."
California has more than 247 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and five people have died.
Google's partnership with the White House shows that the administration is setting up a larger private sector partnership. It already has partnered with Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS in response to COVID-19
"Seeing the spread of the virus around the globe, the president realized that our current approach to testing was inadequate to meet the needs of the American public," said Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator. "He asked for an entire overhaul of the testing approach. He immediately called the private sector laboratories to the White House, as noted, and charged them with developing a high-throughput quality platform that can meet the needs of the American public."