Staying at home and social distancing are good measures to prevent further spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus but it is only a stopgap measure. One important weapon against the disease is actually knowing who is infected to be able to give them proper care and stop the virus from contaminating others. Resources for testing, both kits and healthcare workers carrying out the procedures, are spread thin. To help at least whittle down potential candidates to eligible recipients, Alphabet’s Verily subsidiary is launching an online tool to help screen for high-risk individuals in San Francisco.
To be clear, this is not any kind of online COVID-19 testing tool that some people may think exists. The tool that Verily, not Google, has been working on is practically an online test to triage and sort out the hundreds of people who might want to get tested for COVID-19.
Not all symptoms immediately equate to a coronavirus infection and determining who’s who is a critical first step, especially considering the limited time and resources available. Verily’s screener was developed in collaboration with the California Governor’s office as well as state and federal public health authorities to create the questionnaire’s that could help indicate whether a person really has a high risk of having contracted the virus.
Verily admits it’s still in a pilot testing phase which is why it’s limiting the test’s coverage to highest risk individuals in the Bay Area, specifically in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. If testers prove to be eligible, they will be directed to the nearest mobile testing site based on capacity, get a nasal swab, and learn the result within a few days.
The test has a few requirements, one of which, unsurprisingly, is a Google account. Those taking the test should also be willing to sigh a COVID-19 Public Health authorization form that gives Verily permission to use those results for the actual screening process. Verily is also working with officials to establish these mobile testing sites in the Bay Area in order to help expand testing across the entire state of California.