Here's What Google Is Actually Doing to Facilitate Coronavirus Testing

Verily, Google's life sciences division, launched a COVID-19 screening website Sunday night, which is currently available on a limited basis. President Trump sparked confusion when he announced the website on Friday.
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At a press conference on Friday afternoon, President Trump said that Americans would soon have access to a screening website for coronavirus, courtesy of Alphabet's Google  (GOOGL) - Get Report. His characterization of the website as part of a widely available screening system was off the mark, however. 

Verily, Google's life sciences division, did launch a coronavirus-focused website on Sunday night through Project Baseline, a Verily program that connects patients with research trials. But the coronavirus testing is limited to the Bay Area for now, if one even qualifies. 

On Verily's website, visitors must sign in with a Google account, complete a health authorization form, answer screening questions and -- if one is deemed qualified for testing -- be directed to a testing center in one of two Bay Area counties.  

Flanked by the CEOs of Walmart  (WMT) - Get Report, Target  (TGT) - Get Report, Labcorp  (LH) - Get Report and other big corporations, Trump on Friday declared a national emergency and laid out a public-private plan for expanding COVID-19 testing and managing the spread of the virus. 

Trump credited Google  (GOOGL) - Get Report for building the screening website, although no representative from Google was present at the press conference. The president and his team painted a picture of a nationwide website that would direct people to testing services nearby, even employing a flow chart that depicted the "screening website" at the top of an end-to-end testing plan. 

Soon after Trump's announcement of the website, Verily issued a vaguely worded statement saying that a COVID-19 testing system was in the "early stages"; a Verily spokesperson later told the New York Times that Trump accurately portrayed "the vision and aspiration" of the screening website. 

It's not clear if or when the screening portal would be expanded nationwide. On Verily's website, the company says that it is "working to rapidly expand testing in every way that we can; please check back soon as we add more testing sites and may expand eligibility criteria." 

Although it is possible to carry the virus with no symptoms, one must currently be exhibiting a specific set of symptoms such as a severe cough to be eligible for a test via the screening portal. 

Shares of Alphabet were down 9% on Monday amid another market slide despite emergency action announced Sunday night by the Federal Reserve, which included an interest rate cut to a range of 0% to 0.25% and a $700 billion quantitative easing program. 

The S&P 500 was down about 8.2% on Monday afternoon, while the Nasdaq was down 8.5%.

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