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

OAKLAND, Calif. — Amid fanfare in March, California officials celebrated the launch of a multimillion-dollar contract with Verily — Google’s health-focused sister company — that they said would vastly expand COVID testing among the state’s impoverished and underserved communities.

But seven months later, San Francisco and Alameda counties — two of the state’s most populous — have severed ties with the company’s testing sites amid concerns about patients’ data privacy and complaints that funding intended to boost testing in low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods instead was benefiting higher-income residents in other communities.

San Francisco and Alameda are among at least 28 counties, including Los Angeles, where California has paid Verily to boost testing capacity through contracts collectively worth $55 million, according to a spokesperson for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. About half of them have received COVID tests through six mobile units that travel among rural areas.

Gov.

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Travel on Thanksgiving? Pass the COVID

Molly Wiese was truly stumped. Her parents and siblings live in Southern California, and Wiese, a 35-year-old lawyer, has returned home every Christmas since she moved to Minnesota in 2007.

Because of the pandemic, Wiese thought it would be wiser to stay put for once. But in June, Wiese’s father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and they feared this could be his final holiday season.

Should she fly with her husband and two young sons to California, putting her immunocompromised father at risk of COVID-19? Or stay home and miss out on making treasured holiday memories with her parents and children?

Her children are in day care, and Wiese’s husband works at a school. They don’t have enough vacation time to self-quarantine before or after a flight, and driving eight days round trip isn’t practical.

She fears giving her father coronavirus. But her parents, who live in the Inland

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