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Verily Testing

This post has been updated to include information from a Verily spokesperson.

Kaiser Health News has reported that San Francisco and Alameda counties in California are no longer using Verily Life Sciences' COVID-19 testing program. However, a Verily spokesperson says the company is currently working with multiple counties in the Bay Area, including Alameda and San Francisco, and that some sites were established as short-term testing spots.

In a March press conference, President Donald Trump boasted of Google's involvement in the response to the pandemic, saying Google engineers were working on a website to direct people to COVID-19 testing sites. Though as 360Dx noted, it was Verily, a sister company to Google, that was involved in that project. Verily additionally launched COVID-19 testing sites across California, and KHN adds that California entered into a $55 million partnership with Verily to establish testing sites. 

KHN reports there have been privacy concerns about the testing, chiefly that people had to sign up using a Gmail account, provide sensitive medical information, and that the privacy policy noted that third parties might have access to that information. "You can imagine a million and a half reasons why people would distrust it," Margot Kushel, director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative tells KHN. "The very structure of this is set up to fail. And by failing the communities who need it most, we fail everybody."

The Verily spokesperson adds that the company has long focused on the "protection of the security and privacy of personal health information." 

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