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Coronavirus screening website promised by White House goes live for 2 California counties

What's next in U.S. amid coronavirus outbreak
What's next in U.S. amid coronavirus outbreak... 03:59

A website designed to screen people's possible coronavirus symptoms and direct them to testing sites went live Sunday night. Though officials at a White House press conference Friday indicated the site would be a national resource, the test version currently in operation serves just California's Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

As of Monday morning, all available appointments were filled.

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The website, called Project Baseline, was designed by Verily, a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, Inc. It requires users to have a Google account and begins with a survey to determine eligibility — residing within 50 miles of the two counties covered; having a mild cough, shortness of breath and a fever. Those who are eligible then receive a lengthier questionnaire to determine the risk of having contracted the virus. 

Testing in California is currently available only for those who are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, and may have had contact with a person with who has the disease, or who traveled to certain countries that have had outbreaks involving "community spread."

Those who are selected for tests are directed to sites where a nasal swab can be collected and sent to a lab. 

A spokesperson for Google said in a statement to CBS News that more appointments will be available in the future.

"All appointments require a call-back confirmation to schedule an appointment. If someone were to fill out the questionnaire overnight, they would go into a queue to be called the next day should they qualify," the spokesperson said. "In these first few days of this pilot, we expect appointment availability to be limited as we stand up operations and that testing capacity will increase in the days to come."

Though the site requires a Google account, its privacy policy claims "your data collected...will never be joined with your data stored in Google products without your explicit permission."

Jason Kint, the CEO of Digital Content Next, a trade group that represents digital publishers, has frequently criticized Google's data collection policies, but he says the Verily policy "clearly states Google won't use the data for its own purposes."

"The language in their privacy policy seems perfectly reasonable as it lines up nicely with what consumers would expect as opposed to the rest of Google's data surveillance operation which mines data across the majority of the web and our lives," Kint said.

The government hopes the website will ultimately streamline the process for Americans to determine if they should be tested and where they should go for testing, according to Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator.

On Friday, officials indicated the site would be a national resource for those who need to be tested, directing people to drive-through labs around the country. 

Officials and Google later clarified that the site would first be rolled out in a small California region. It is not clear when or if it will expand.

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