Verily’s COVID Testing Program Halted in San Francisco and Oakland

In a September response to the Oakland COVID-19 disparities task force, Ghaly outlined several actions the state had taken or would take in response to the concerns, including having Verily update its platform to include additional languages and work with testing vendors on alternative methods for data collection to address privacy concerns.

“Some of the things we learned specifically in our experience in Alameda and other parts of the Bay Area is language matters,” Ghaly told KHN.

After working with the homeless for 25 years, Dr. Margot Kushel, director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, said she wasn’t surprised to learn some community leaders ran into problems with Verily.

“It turns out that in public health, the highest-tech solution is usually not the right one,” she said. To bring COVID cases down, she explained, requires a “laser focus” on the highest-risk communities. And people in those communities often don’t want to turn over the protected information Verily asks for, whether because of fears about their immigration status or a history of mistrust of the medical establishment and policing.

“You can imagine a million and a half reasons why people would distrust it,” Kushel said. “The very structure of this is set up to fail. And by failing the communities who need it most, we fail everybody.”

The article is much longer, normally I’d copy it, but Firefox deleted my copy script…

Anyhow, don’t trust Google. Ever.