Policy

The White House still can’t explain what’s going on with the coronavirus screening website

The White House still can’t explain what’s going on with the coronavirus screening website

The White House continued to give conflicting information on Saturday on a website that Google is supposed to create to help people determine if and how to get a new coronavirus test.

Vice President Mike Pence said in a White House briefing that an update would be available on Sunday March 15. “We will have a very specific description of when the website will be available, when the parking sites will be available for people to test,” said Pence in response to a question from a reporter. “We are working with the state and local communities to determine where it is best to deploy them.”

But later in the briefing, Pence was asked why Google said the site would be limited to San Francisco Bay. “They are planning to launch a website on Monday, March 16, which will allow individuals to do a risk assessment and be scheduled for testing at test sites in the Bay Area, with the aim of expanding in other places, “said Pence.

The goal is to set up a website very quickly for people in the hardest hit areas, added Pence, including Washington State, California, New York, Massachusetts and Florida.

Google itself never said it would build a website, but a sister company within its parent company Alphabet – Verily – plans to build a pilot website only for the Bay Area. Given the complexity of Alphabet’s business structure, Pence may simply refer to the Verily website. We contacted Verily and Google for comments.

At a press conference on Friday when he declared a state of emergency, President Trump said that Google was developing a website “… it’s going to be done very quickly, unlike websites in the past – to determine if a test is warranted and to facilitate testing. in a convenient location nearby. “He added that” Google currently has 1,700 engineers working on this subject. They have made huge progress. “

This was news for Google, who said that a filtering website created by Verily, a separate division of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was in the works, but could only direct people to testing facilities. in the Bay Area and that a national deployment was underway. an aspiration, not an absolute plan.

Carolyn Wang, communications manager for Verily, said The edge Friday night that the “triage website” only being able to direct people to “pilot sites” for testing in the Bay Area, hoping to expand it beyond California “over time”.

At the briefing on Saturday, President Trump said he had taken a coronavirus test – although he said earlier that he didn’t think he needed it – and was awaiting the results. His temperature was “completely normal” today, he added. Journalists in the briefing room said took their temperatures before Trump and the rest of the task force enter the briefing room.

Wearing a “USA” baseball cap, Trump was asked why he had decided to shake hands with certain company executives who had joined him at a White House press conference Friday to declare an emergency national. Health officials advise people to avoid such contact to prevent the spread of the virus. He said it was a habit he took on as a politician, adding that “getting away from shaking hands is good.”

Pence also announced on Saturday that the administration plans to extend its travel restrictions to include Ireland and the United Kingdom, to take effect Monday at midnight. President Trump previously announced that “most foreign nationals” who were in 26 European countries would not be allowed to enter the United States for 30 days. The latest ban does not apply to U.S. citizens, but Trump said the White House is considering a travel ban on national territory for certain “hot spots.”

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