California’s San Francisco and Alameda (home to Oakland) counties are no longer using Verily’s COVID-19 testing system, according to Kaiser Health News. Verily, an Alphabet-owned health-focused company, signed contracts collectively worth $55 million with 28 California counties earlier this year to make coronavirus testing more accessible in the state. Shortly after opening testing sites in March, though, members of Alameda’s COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force raised concerns about Verily’s protocols. In particular, they pointed out how requiring people to sign up for testing with a Gmail account keeps it out of reach for low-income residents who need it the most.
While Verily doesn’t do testing itself — it has contracts with other companies who supply the testing kits and do the lab work — it provides a digital platform where people can sign up for testing. It also runs testing sites where people can drive-thru for a nasal swab. Signing up for testing through Verily requires a Gmail account, though, and that has proven to be an issue, especially with the homeless who don’t always have access to a phone or an internet connection.