Last Friday, President Trump, together with Vice President Pence and White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Brix, announced that we would soon see a new website go up that would be at the core of the government’s testing strategy.
This website, which was supposedly being built by 1,700 Google engineers, was meant to help direct people to testing locations and “be very quickly done.” Now, a week later, that site, whether built by Google or not, is still nowhere to be found.
While a number of companies and other organizations have set up basic screening websites that let you check your symptoms, the nationwide website is still missing in action.
What we do have is Verily’s relatively small pilot project in the Bay Area, which is the closest to the project the government promised last week, but it’s not nationwide. We asked Verily for data about how many people its service has sent to testing sites so far. The company has not yet responded to our request, but The Guardian staked out the testing sites earlier this week and saw very little activity there.
“I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website,” Trump said last Friday. “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. […] Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now. They have made tremendous progress.”
Earlier this week, Trump also said that “the head of Google,” Sundar Pichai, called him to apologize. We have not been able to confirm this call actually happened and neither Google nor the White House wanted to share any details, so it remains unclear what Pichai apologized for.