Verily rolls out Healthy at Work testing program for companies seeking to reopen safely

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Verily Life Sciences has announced an app-based health screening service for businesses and schools trying to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. The product, called Healthy at Work, will provide COVID-19 diagnostic testing for employees.

It will also make recommendations to employers about how often employees should be retested. Those recommendations will be based on local health data, as well as test results.

The program will conduct daily symptom screening through an app to either route people to be tested for the virus or clear them to return to work, according to a Verily spokesperson. It’s up to each participating company to decide whether to test its workforce all at once or start with small groups of employees. The symptom screening is not just used to determine who should get a test, but it’s one more way to monitor and potentially slow the spread of the virus, according to the spokesperson.

People may have COVID-19 — and be able to infect others — before showing symptoms like a fever. That means screening people for symptoms to determine whether they get a test is not a foolproof method to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in a workplace.

Healthy at Work offers several options for testing sites: mobile test sites, home test kits, Verily’s community test sites, or custom onsite test sites. Verily is using nasal mid-turbinate swab real-time PCR test kits supplied by Quest.

Employers will be able to see an employee’s testing status. That will let them make decisions about mitigating the spread, Verily says. The information can’t be shared with insurance companies, though. And data collected by Verily through the Healthy at Work program “will never be joined with individual’s data stored in Google products without the individuals’ explicit permission,” the spokesperson said. Nor do employees or companies need Google accounts to participate in the Healthy at Work program.

Back in March, Verily — a sister company to Google that’s part of parent company Alphabet — introduced a COVID-19 screening site that President Trump had unexpectedly announced during a White House briefing. The president said Google was rolling out a testing program nationwide, but in fact it was Verily, and the program wasn’t yet available. When it did launch, the testing program was limited to the Bay Area. But the company says its COVID-19 testing program has now tested more than 220,000 people across 13 states.

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