Mar 21, 2020 - Technology

Google's national coronavirus website rolls out

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Google late Friday debuted a new website devoted to information about COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus, including local information, prevention tips, search trends and additional resources for individuals, educators and businesses.

Why it matters: Google's effort, designed to help get the most accurate information before the largest number of people, has been complicated as Google has had to scramble to catch up to President Trump's pronouncements.

Details: The site is launching Friday in the U.S. and will be available in coming days in other languages and countries. Currently, those seeking information on being tested will be given the CDC's generic recommendations, though Google may add more personalized options later.

  • In a blog post, Google said it was also expanding the information it shows in virus-related search queries to include authoritative information from health authorities along with new data and visualizations.

What they're saying: "Right now the disease is the largest topic people are looking for globally, surpassing even some of the most common and consistent queries we see in Search.," Google said.

Flashback: It was a week ago that President Trump said Google was building a national website where people could enter their symptoms, find out if they needed a test and be directed to one.

However, it turned out that the effort actually under way, being done by sister company Verily, was still under development and only in the testing phase. After Trump's initial announcement, Google said it would build a national informational site in addition to the one Verily was building, with more general information.

That site was originally slated to be ready by Monday, but at that time Google said it was being delayed until later in the week.

Verily's site, meanwhile, rolled out in limited form last Sunday and offers a detailed symptom checker and local testing resources, but only for the Bay Area.

Go deeper

Google delays its coronavirus info portal

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Google will not launch a nationwide website for coronavirus information as planned today. Instead, it hopes to have the website up later this week.

Between the lines: As Axios reported this weekend, the national website was only planned after President Trump blindsided the company by announcing it at a Friday press conference.

Senators call for antitrust review of Google search practices

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A bipartisan pair of senators, in a letter Tuesday, are urging the Justice Department to investigate Google's search operations as well as its advertising business.

The big picture: The letter from Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) comes as the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee holds a Tuesday hearing on ways that digital platforms favor themselves over their competitors.

Trump's Google claims fit his pattern of tech hype

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump's exaggerated claims about a Google-developed website to triage coronavirus diagnosis and treatment nationwide are the latest instance of a longstanding presidential pattern of tech-related misrepresentations and hype.

Why it matters: At a moment when the public needs solid trustworthy information from leaders, institutions and news sources, the president is spreading confusion and doubt.