As governments look to industry for assistance in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, a new online service designed to make initial risk assessments will be piloted in San Francisco.

Verily is a life-sciences technology company owned by Alphabet, which is Google’s parent company. It has announced it will launch a pilot intended to expand access to COVID-19 risk screening and testing for high risk individuals. This is being done In collaboration with the California Governor’s office, federal, state and local public health authorities.

Specifically the pilot will use something called Project Baseline, a technology platform created to  support research and community health initiatives, to measure risk level. Then those considered to be in the greatest need will be directed to mobile testing sites based on capacity, where they will complete a nasal swab test.

It remains to be seen how effective and scalable this facility will be, but it’s good to see the public and private sectors trying to collaborate on this. Google has blogged about the other stuff it’s doing, while Facebook has offered the World Health Organization unlimited advertising to communicate with its billions of users. Twitter, as ever, is the best place for emerging news and advice, as indicated by the tweets below.


Of course Twitter is also where the hysterical, the paranoid and the just plain attention-seeking also go to make this crisis about themselves, but it looks like they’re largely being disregarded by the sensible overwhelming majority. It helps that most of the latter don’t even use Twitter, of course.


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