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Google, Walmart join US effort to speed up coronavirus testing

Google would offer a website to help people determine whether they needed tests and retailers would set up drive-through testing in parking lots

Reuters 

Coronavirus
Google would offer a website to help people determine whether they needed tests and retailers would set up drive-through testing in parking lots

Corporate America joined the fight against the spread of on Friday, as President and executives announced that would offer a website to help people determine whether they needed tests and retailers would set up drive-through testing in parking lots.

Shares of parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Inc (WMT.N), Target Corp (TGT.N) and drugstore owner CVS Health Corp (CVS.N) all closed up more than 9%, in line with the broad stock market, though Alphabet dropped 2% after hours.

Pressure has been rising on US officials to increase and improve testing for the fast-spreading virus, which has reached almost every US state and infected more than 1,660 people in the country.

“I want to thank 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,” Trump said.

“Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now, 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 test.

Those requiring a test would be referred to a store that can provide assistance, potentially including a drive-through test, according to the administration’s presentation. Results would be available online in 24 to 36 hours.

US Vice President Mike Pence said the website’s launch date would 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, with the help of an undisclosed number of Google employees.

“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,” Verily spokeswoman Kathleen Parkes said.

About 1,700 Google workers have volunteered to help with coronavirus-related efforts, according to a person familiar with the matter, but it is unclear whether all of them are involved with developing the new website.

First Published: Sat, March 14 2020. 21:06 IST
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