- The coronavirus pandemic has left hospitals and doctors overwhelmed with new patients.
- Some hospitals will not even admit individuals exhibiting non-coronavirus symptoms.
- A new Google program will make it easier for patients in need of medical care to virtually connect with doctors.
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The coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing but may be showing ever so subtle signs of slowing down. In New York City, for example, the number of coronavirus-related deaths reached a peak earlier this week and may start trending downwards going forward. Additionally, coronavirus-related hospitalizations in New York City declined over the past few days.
That notwithstanding, much of the country’s medical resources remain strained as hospitals and doctors continue to deal with a huge influx of patients. In fact, some hospitals in areas where the coronavirus outbreak is particularly pronounced won’t even admit individuals unless they’re exhibiting corona-related symptoms or if it happens to be a severe medical emergency. Consequently, and as part of a broader effort to provide medical care to folks suffering non-coronavirus symptoms, Google earlier today announced a new initiative designed to make it easier for people to virtually connect with medical professionals.
Google describes its new initiative as follows:
Healthcare providers like hospitals, doctors, and mental health professionals can now enter a virtual care offering in their Business Profile, so that people searching for their local provider, for instance, might see a “get online care” link on Search and Maps. Clicking this link will take people to that provider’s virtual care website where they can find more information, and in many cases, schedule a virtual healthcare visit with a provider.
The pandemic has affected many healthcare providers’ operating hours and walk-in visit policies. To help communicate changes that might affect someone’s visit, we’re automatically surfacing a link directly to health providers’ COVID-19 information page on Search and Maps, and we’ve assembled best practices on how healthcare providers can update their websites and provide COVID-19 information on Google My Business.
Notably, tech companies have really been stepping up to the plate to help combat the coronavirus. Apple, for example, has donated more than 20 million masks worldwide and also started manufacturing face shields on a large scale.
“This is a truly global effort,” Tim Cook said a few days ago, “and we’re working continuously and closely with governments at all levels to ensure these are donated to places of greatest need.”
We’ve also seen tech giants start working together to help contain the coronavirus. Earlier today, Apple and Google announced that they’re working together to roll out a new Bluetooth-powered solution that will enable people who opt-in to the service to discover if they’ve come into close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Given the urgent need,” Apple noted in a press release, “the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.”
If all goes according to plan, official contact tracing apps will roll out to the App Store and the Google Play Store next month.