Mar 15, 2020 - Technology

Google scrambles to catch up with Trump's website claims

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

At a Sunday news conference, President Donald Trump doubled down on his claim that Google is working with the government to build a nationwide website to help manage coronavirus diagnosis and treatment.

Reality check: Google was blindsided by Trump's Friday announcement of such a project. The company is now working on two different tracks: ramping up a small pilot project that partially resembles what Trump spoke of Friday but had much more modest scope, while also scrambling to launch an entirely new, less personalized nationwide information portal about the virus.

The personalized service Trump spoke about Friday will be based on a tool in development by Google's sister company Verily and initially will serve only the San Francisco Bay area.

  • Only after Trump's claim Friday that the tool would be rolling out nationally "very quickly" did Google begin working on the separate national website project, Axios has learned.

The nationwide website Google is now developing in partnership with the government will include information that was already being served up when people search Google products for terms related to the coronavirus.

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a Sunday blog post said the site will roll out late Monday and will include recommendations on prevention and links to information from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control.
  • In a separate Sunday blog post, Verily said the other tool remains "in its early stages" and will start by directing some high-risk San Franciscans to "select sites" in the city for coronavirus testing, with plans to expand as more tests become available.
  • Google declined to comment beyond directing Axios to the blog posts.

What he's saying: "They substantiated what I said on Friday," Trump said at the news conference Sunday.

  • "The head of Google, who's a great gentleman, called us and he apologized," he added. "I don't know where the press got their fake news, but they got it someplace."
  • But Trump's Friday statement that Google already had 1700 engineers working on a national site was false several different ways, based on information supplied by Google and Verily themselves: There aren't 1700 engineers working on the project; the project is local, not national; and it's early in development.

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests enter 12th day

Protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 6. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of demonstrators are rallying in cities across the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd. Huge crowds have assembled in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago for full-day events.

Why it matters: Twelve days of nationwide protest in the U.S. has built pressure for states to make new changes on what kind of force law enforcement can use on civilians and prompted officials to review police conduct.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

In photos: People around the world rally against racism

Despite a ban on large gatherings implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic, protesters rally against racism in front of the American Embassy in Paris on June 6. Photo: Julien Mattia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people have continued to rally in cities across the world against racism and show their support this week for U.S. demonstrators protesting the death in police custody of George Floyd.

Why it matters: The tense situation in the U.S. has brought the discussion of racism and discrimination onto the global stage at a time when most of the world is consumed by the novel coronavirus.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 6,852,810 — Total deaths: 398,211 — Total recoveries — 3,071,142Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,917,080 — Total deaths: 109,702 — Total recoveries: 500,849 — Total tested: 19,778,873Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.