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Google completely undercuts Trump’s announcement of a new coronavirus testing website

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After President Donald Trump unleashed chaos with his Oval Office address about the coronavirus on Wednesday night, it seems he and his team decided they better give it a second shot. So on Friday, Trump appeared in the Rose Garden for a press conference along with business executives and leading members of the coronavirus task force to speak to the country.

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And while it wasn’t quite as disastrous as Trump’s rollout of a new ban on travel to the U.S. from most European countries, the president completely misrepresented the central announcement of the event.

Trump claimed that there will be a new website designed by Google to facilitate the administration of coronavirus tests to the American people.

“I want to thank Google,” Trump said. “Google is helping develop a website. It’s going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past.” He said the website will “determine if a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location.”

This last remark was a clear dig at the Obama administration, which unleashed chaos of its own when the launch of a national website to connect people with Affordable Care Act insurance plans crashed and burned.

But Trump shouldn’t have been so cocky.

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It turns out, Google isn’t designing a website for the Trump administration at all. Instead, Verily, another firm under Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has been working on a website, though some Google engineers have apparently volunteered for the project.

This error, though embarrassing, is not that significant. What is significant is that Trump seems to have no idea what the website has been intended to do, when it will be functional, or what it’s scope or purpose will be.

Google Communications shared a statement from Verily:

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So, despite Trump’s claim that the website would be “very quickly done,” Verily says it’s in the “early stages of development.” It’s not clear at all what this means, but every day counts in a pandemic, and Trump was clearly overpromising. The rollout will only begin in the Bay Area, not for all Americans. And the company only expressed its “hope” that it will be “expanding more broadly over time.”

Trump also claimed that 1,700 engineers had worked on the website, but according to the Daily Beast, there was no basis to this claim.

The president’s speech indicated that Americans would be able to use the website to enter their symptoms and determine if they needed a test, and if so, where they could get one promptly.

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But according to spokesperson Carolyn Wang in a statement to The Verge, the intent of the project was not initially for it to be used for the public but by providers:

Carolyn Wang, communications lead for Verily, told The Verge that the “triage website” was initially only going to be made available to health care workers instead of the general public. Now that it has been announced the way it was, however, anybody will be able to visit it, she said. But the tool will only be able to direct people to “pilot sites” for testing in the Bay Area, though Wang says Verily hopes to expand it beyond California “over time.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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‘They don’t understand what it means to be American’: Ex-Pentagon chief blasts White House

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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany explained Wednesday that President Donald Trump went to St. John's Church with his Bible because it's what former President George W. Bush did after Sept. 11 and what Winston Churchill did during World War II. The problem, of course, being that protesters demanding an end to police brutality aren't the same as Al-Qaeda or the Nazis and it's police killing unarmed Americans, not Black Lives Matter.

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‘Comically ridiculous’: Kayleigh McEnany sparks outrage by comparing Trump to Winston Churchill

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At Wednesday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany compared President Donald Trump's church photo-op stunt to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspecting bombing damage during the Nazi raids in World War II.

Kayleigh compares the President’s photo op to Churchill inspecting bombing damage pic.twitter.com/KP5ovHMYzI

— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) June 3, 2020

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Team Trump ‘running for cover’ after attempt to crack down on protests results in ‘humiliation’: conservative columnist

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Writing in the Washington Post this Wednesday, columnist Jennifer Rubin writes that the "tear-gassing of peaceful protesters, the debasement of St. John’s Episcopal Church, the wholly inappropriate participation of the defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the goose step across Lafayette Square" were actually President Trump's way of compensating for reports that he retreated to an underground bunker when protesters got close to the White House.

Rubin points to Trump's claim that he went to the bunker for an "inspection." But according to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, he had no idea where Trump and the rest of his entourage were going.

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