An online screening and testing “triage” tool for COVID-19 was launched this week by Verily Life Sciences, a healthcare technology company owned by Mountain View, Calif.-based Alphabet — though with a substantially reduced scope than initially suggested by President Trump. 

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden last Friday, Trump claimed that Google was directly involved in the project, though he appears to have overplayed the role of Google and the current scope of the screening website.

“I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website. It’s going to be very quickly done — unlike websites of the past — to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location,” he said. “Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now. They have made tremendous progress.”

But while Google’s engineers have contributed to the project on a volunteer basis, the company is not directly involved in the creation and operation of the service. The pilot project is actually the product of Verily Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, in partnership with the California Governor’s office, as well as federal, state and local public health authorities.

The project is also at a much earlier stage than the president suggested and is currently limited to California’s San Francisco Bay Area.

“In collaboration with the California Governor’s office, federal, state and local public health authorities, Verily is helping to establish testing sites in the Bay Area and an online tool to increase risk screening and testing for people at high risk of COVID-19,” Verily said in a blog post on Sunday. “The tool will triage people who are concerned about their COVID-19 risk into testing sites based on guidance from public health officials and test availability.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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