Google has made the call to slightly delay the launch of its informational coronavirus website to “later this week.” The site, which the search giant had not planned on making until last week, has been at the center of a swirl of contention between President Donald Trump, Google, and the press since the president first said a site where people could check symptoms, arrange a test, and get test results was coming from Google, but was actually referring to a much more limited site from Google sister company Verily.
Now, a Google spokesperson tells The Verge the company wants to take a little more time to fill out the features of this new informational site. It’s also true that so much has happened in the past 24 hours that Google wanted to ensure that it had up-to-date information on things like recent calls to shelter-in-place.
It still seems unlikely that Google’s site will live up to the comprehensive, national screening features that the White House has promised. Earlier today, Vanity Fair reported that Jared Kushner overpromised what Google would deliver when he described the site to President Trump last week.
Google now claims that the site will “surface authoritative information for people in the US, including on screening and testing.” (Emphasis ours.)
If and when Google’s site does link to a screening tool, it’s likely to link to something provided by the CDC. As testing sites become available, Google says it will also include official information on their locations both on this website and on its other products — including Google Maps and, of course, Search.
Google provided this statement on the delay:
Verily launched a pilot website late Sunday to counties in the Bay Area, and is working with authorities to scale this effort further. With local and national guidance evolving rapidly, Google will continue working with relevant agencies and authorities to roll out a website later this week that will surface authoritative information for people in the U.S., including on screening and testing.
Google says that its intention is to make this informational site available nationally and will start with US English, though Spanish will follow as will a more international rollout. Google says its intention is to pull information from the WHO and the CDC. It currently has a simple information card at the top of some coronavirus searches and has joined with other big tech companies in a promise to “jointly combat” misinformation.
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