Google, Walmart join U.S. effort to fight against coronavirus

Google, Walmart join U.S. effort to fight against coronavirus
Ambassador Debbie Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, displays the new testing protocols being deployed for coronavirus. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times, California: Corporate America joined the fight against the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Google would offer a website to help people determine whether they needed tests and Walmart would set up drive-through testing in parking lots, President Trump announced.

Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Target Corp (TGT.N), Walmart Inc (WMT.N) and drugstore owner CVS Health Corp (CVS.N) all closed up more than 9%, in line with the broad stock market.

Pressure has been increasing on Trump administration to do more and improve testing for the fast-spreading virus, which has reached almost every U.S. state. The virus has infected more than 1,660 people in the country.

President Trump thanked Google and said, “Google is helping to develop a website, it’s gonna be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location.”

He said Google’s 1,700 engineers are currently working on this right now and made tremendous progress.

An administration presentation showed a potential user would be asked several questions on the website and then given a recommendation as to whether they should get a coronavirus test.

According to the presentation, those requiring a test would be referred to a store that can provide assistance, potentially including a drive-through test and within 24-36 hours, the result will be available online.

Vice President Mike Pence said the launch date of the website will be known by Sunday night.

Verily, a healthcare tech company also owned by Alphabet, said it was leading the effort to develop the web tool. They are doing it with the help of Google employees, but the company did not reveal how many engineers are working on the project.

Verily spokeswoman Kathleen Parkes said, “We are in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the (San Francisco) Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time.”

The Reuters reported citing familiar figures with the matter that 1,700 Google workers have volunteered to help with coronavirus-related efforts, which will help to fight against coronavirus. But it is not sure that all of them are involved with developing the new website.