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Alphabet's Verily details coronavirus testing efforts

Google's sister company is helping develop an online tool to perform risk screening and testing of people at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

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A shopper wears a masking while waiting to enter a Costco in the Bay Area city of Novato.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Google sister company Verily said Sunday it plans to begin online screening of people in the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday to determine their eligibility for a coronavirus testing program. Verily, the life sciences arm of Google parent company Alphabet, said it chose the Bay Area as its launch point because of the high volume of known coronavirus cases.

Verily said last week it's working with the federal government to build a tool to help people find coronavirus testing, Verily said said in a blog post Sunday it's working to establish testing sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and developing an online tool to perform risk screening and testing of people at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Beginning Monday, Bay Area will be able to take an online COVID-19 screener survey to determine their eligibility for the program.

"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," Verily said. "People who meet eligibility and requirements for testing will be directed to mobile testing sites based on capacity, where they will complete a nasal swab test.

"Once tested, individuals will be informed of their COVID-19 test results within a few days," Verily said.

Verily said it plans to expand the program as more testing sites and kits become available.

"Ultimately, our goal is to help local authorities expand testing access in California as the need continues to increase," Verily said. "The program is in its early stages, and we will take the time to assess operations at pilot sites in the Bay Area before rolling out to additional sites.

President Trump unveiled the project during an address Friday at the White House, where he declared a national state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort comes as the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted everyday life across the globe.

At Google and Alphabet, all North American employees have been asked to work from home, and the company canceled its annual Google I/O developer conference. The confab, which had been scheduled for May, is Google's biggest event of the year. 

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The coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. The virus, known as 2019-nCoV, was reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31 and has been under investigation since. Chinese scientists have linked the disease to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses, which include SARS and MERS. The World Health Organization has labeled the coronavirus a pandemic.

The disease has now spread to the US, forcing schools to be closed, Broadway theaters to shut down, and various other activities and sporting events to be canceled or delayed. More than 1,600 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.