[Update: Progress] Verily launches COVID-19 screener and testing for California
After much confusion over the last three days, Google sister company Verily has launched its COVID-19 screener and testing website. It does not have the nationwide capability — currently only covering the Bay Area — originally alluded to by US officials.
See bottom of page for updates.
Original 3/15: This tool lets you complete an online questionnaire to determine whether to get tested — through a nasal swab — for the coronavirus. It’s currently only available in Santa Clara and San Mateo following a partnership between Alphabet’s life sciences division and the state of California. Verily hopes to “rapidly expand testing in every way that we can.”
We’re focusing our initial efforts on expanding risk assessment and testing to areas with high volumes of known cases, such as the Bay Area. We’re currently working with the California governor’s office to direct high-risk individuals to newly-launched testing centers in San Mateo and Santa Clara.
- Creating an account: We ask that you create a Google Account or connect your existing Google Account to participate in this program.
- Completing a COVID permission form: In order for information collected by Project Baseline to be used for COVID-19 screening, individuals will need to sign a public health authorization form.
- Taking a screener: You’ll share some information about your health and symptoms based on guidelines from public health officials.
- If eligible, get tested for COVID-19: Based on the COVID-19 screener and testing kit availability, you will learn whether you qualify for free testing and where you can get the testing done.
- Receive your results: Once tested, you’ll be informed via email of your COVID-19 test results.
The “Initial Survey” is a yes/no question, with many quickly finding that the former answer does not direct people to a location. According to a Verily statement, this is intentional as those “seriously ill” need to get medical attention immediately, not visit the testing sites.
A Google Account is required to sign-up, but Verily notes that collected data “will never be joined with your data stored in Google products without your explicit permission.” Additionally, “information will not be used for advertising.”
Testing is “critical to containment efforts,” with Verily’s effort helping direct people to testing sites and enabling “public health officials to target testing efforts.” It hopes to “reduce the burden on our hospital system and is complementary to testing happening in a clinical care situation.”
Current diagnosis efforts of COVID-19 are primarily focused on symptomatic and/or high risk individuals.
President Donald Trump, and later other officials, alluded to a nationwide screening website. While this Verily COVID-19 screener could become that in the future, it is not currently the wide-ranging tool mentioned Friday. Meanwhile, Google is working on a separate website that will deliver information about the coronavirus.
Update 3/16: As of this morning, Verily’s COVID-19 screener is “unable to schedule more appointments.” While the site lets you answer several steps, it throws up a warning that prevents you from continuing. The Alphabet company alludes to high demand at the testing locations and will return in the “near future” as capacity grows.
Appointments will continue to expand through this program as we scale capacity in the near future.
Update 3/19: As of Wednesday, the Baseline COVID-19 Pilot Program has tested more than 130 individuals and over 350 more appointments have been scheduled this week. The first results will be returned in the coming days. Meanwhile, the online screener has been completed by 12,000 people with factors changing over time.
The early days of the pilot have been focused on an end-to-end protocol and playbook that can scale. A critical part of this process is adjusting the screening and scheduling of individuals to prioritize those at highest risk, as identified by the CA Department of Public Health (CDPH), to match with testing supply and lab analysis capacity and to prevent on-site congestion — work that is facilitated through the Baseline Platform.
Update 3/22: Verily this evening announced that the testing program has expanded to Lake Elsinore in Riverside county. Sometime over the past few days Sacramento was also added for a grand total of four counties.
Update 3/23: Following last night’s expansion, Verily has a progress update on its first week. Over 1,200 individuals were tested in San Mateo and Santa Clara, while the online tool is now adding “a self-service scheduling capability for eligible individuals.”
Today’s blog post also details who Verily is working with:
Thermo Fisher Scientific and Becton Dickinson are rapidly producing critically needed testing kits. PWNHealth is the physician network that approves testing for individuals and provides post-test telehealth consults, and the nurses and healthcare providers from Hawthorne Effect and Elligo are onsite at the frontlines performing tests. Tests are then processed by Quest Diagnostics.
Update 3/30: After two weeks, Verily has tested more than 3,700 individuals (as of March 28) across the four sites. The Alphabet company is also making available best practices for setting up drive-thru locations with a focus on getting operational in a week, efficiency, safety, and automation:
The COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Program Guide is the result of collaboration between Verily’s Project Baseline team of engineers, scientists, clinical operations specialists, and more, and the California Department of Public of Health (CDPH), California Department of Health and Human Services (CDHHS), California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and county and city departments of public health. The guide also includes clinical and operational input from Stanford Medicine, based on its testing protocols and experience addressing COVID-19.
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