A week ago, President Trump held a news conference in which he said Google would create a screening site for the current coronavirus outbreak that would guide people to test sites. As we saw over the next few days, this is not the case. While Google’s sister company, Verily, did launch such a site, it offered testing only to a very small number of people in the Bay Area. On the other hand, Google itself does say it will launch a website to help deal with coronaviruses, and today we’ve seen results.
Google has launched a new page and started offering more enhanced information cards to people searching for terms related to coronaviruses. The most valuable is the information label, which describes symptoms, prevention, global information, and local lying.
The site is located at google.com/covid19, where you can find “status-based information, security and prevention tips, search trends related to COVID-19, and more resources for individuals, educators and businesses.” Google stresses that it gets information from “authoritative” sources such as the WHO and the CDC.
Currently only available in English, a Google spokesman said it would soon provide Spanish support and that the site was designed with accessibility in mind, including the larger fonts that Google typically uses.
The site contains videos from ASL, a global map showing confirmed cases by country, and a wealth of information about the rescue efforts googled, as well as some YouTube videos.
However, you’ll find that it doesn’t include what Trump originally claimed, and that the content you search for usually points to a link to a local website, for example, selecting “California” will provide a link to the California Department of Public Health.
Many big tech companies are struggling to provide coronavirus-related support, and the CDC has a “self-test” chatbot that Microsoft helped build, but that doesn’t seem to address the anxiety of Americans today. No technology company has been able to solve the biggest problem of the pandemic: access to testing and the impending crisis in health care infrastructure.
At some point in the future, Google may provide a questionnaire and information about the location of a direct local infection detection. But a spokesman said the company would only do so if authoritative and trustworthy information was provided on those sites, which unfortunately could take a long time.