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Coronavirus screening website promised by Trump takes step toward expanding beyond 4 counties

More than two weeks after the White House's coronavirus task force promised a national screening website made by Google would facilitate testing for Americans, it remains focused on just four California counties. 

But on Monday the website, called Project Baseline, took a step toward expansion. Verily Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, Inc., runs the site and released a guide "designed to help government officials, public health departments, and local communities establish drive-through testing sites."

Coronavirus testing site in San Mateo County, California
The photo, provided by Verily Life Sciences, shows a car approach one of the company's drive-through coronavirus testing sites in San Mateo County, California. Verily Life Sciences

The company says that by following its instructions, local governments can establish "within a one-week timeframe" online screening through Project Baseline, as well as drive-through testing sites that work with labs to process tests.

Visitors to the Project Baseline website in its current form are greeted with a survey to determine eligibility. Factors include: residing within 50 miles of the four counties covered; having a mild cough, shortness of breath and a fever. Those who are eligible then receive a lengthier questionnaire to assess risk. To proceed to that step, users must have a Google account, a policy that will not change as the site expands across the country. 

The site's privacy policy claims "your data collected...will never be joined with your data stored in Google products without your explicit permission."

As of March 28, the Project Baseline site had tested approximately 3,700 people in California's Santa Clara, San Mateo, Riverside and Sacramento counties.

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