KEY POINTS

  • Google subsidiary Verily launched a website for coronavirus screening appointments
  • The website ran out of capacity within 24 hours of launch
  • There  is no word on when it will be operational again

Google’s coronavirus screening website, launched by its subsidiary Verily to help schedule coronavirus tests has already run out of capacity, within the first day of its launch.

 A message was posted on the website said: “Unfortunately, we are unable to schedule more appointments at this time: Appointments will continue to expand through this program as we scale capacity in the near future. Please check back later.” It then redirects to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19/coronavirus guidelines and an “About us” page about the project, which is named Project Baseline.

The website was announced by President Donald Trump as a tool that will help people decide whether or not they should get tested. However, the actual website only lets users book appointments for coronavirus testing at their local clinic. "It's going to be very quickly done -- unlike websites of the past -- to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location," Trump had stated at a press conference Friday.

Verily Google's Coronavirus screening website is out of capacity. Photo: Verily/Project Baseline

According to The Verge, the website may have been in the works as a small pilot for California’s Bay Area. But it seems from the apparent confusion over the website that Trump's announcement took the company by surprise, which may have led to the site running out of capacity to provide further appointments for coronavirus testing, within the first 24 hours. 

When asked by the Wired Magazine about the specifics of people who were able to schedule appointments, the problems with the website and when it will open again, Verily did not provide any numbers or other details about when the website would be functional again. Instead, it only stated that during the first few days of the project, slot availability will be limited and it will increase as the testing capacity increases.

There is no timeline on when the website and the coronavirus testing will be scaled up. Google has refrained from making any promises. However, it will need to be done fast, because coronavirus cases are spreading in the U.S. at an alarming rate.

The CDC has reported 3,487 confirmed cases and 68 deaths since Jan. 21. Cases have been reported from 49 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In the meantime, Google is also launching another website. However, unlike Verily’s Project Baseline, this website will only be dedicated to informing users about the coronavirus, its symptoms and the precautions they can take. The company’s CEO Sundar Pichai has said that the site will be regularly updated with resources available on the pandemic.