Google is offering its US employees free weekly COVID-19 tests that they can administer at home

Google headquarters office employee
  • Google is offering its US workers a new perk: Free weekly COVID-19 testing kits. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news
  • The kits are provided through a partnership with the healthcare company BioIQ. 
  • All 90,000 US employees are eligible, including those who work for subsidiaries like YouTube, and they can request up to two tests each week. 
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Tech giant Google is providing free weekly coronavirus tests for all 90,000 of its US employees that they can administer themselves, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. It appears to be the largest company testing effort aimed at staff who are working from home. 

The perk was so popular that the company’s internal website where employees sign up for the new perk crashed after it went live on Thursday, The Journal reported.

All US employees, including those who work for Google’s companies like YouTube, are eligible for free tests, which they’re guaranteed to receive within three days of submitting a request. 

Google has partnered with the Atlanta-based biotech firm BioIQ to deliver the tests. The search giant will pay $50 per test, The Hill reported, and they could cost the company as much as $4.5 million per week. 

The benefit, aimed at asymptomatic carriers, comes as coronavirus cases continue to soar across the country and the first vaccines are delivered to healthcare workers. Friday evening, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a second vaccine, developed by biotech firm Moderna, for emergency use. 

Google New York City office

Employees can test themselves up to two times each week

It’s not uncommon for companies to offer coronavirus testing to their office workers, but Google is among the largest companies so far to offer testing to stay-at-home employees.

Google let its massive US workforce work from home beginning in March. They won’t be back in the office until September of next year, the company said this week. 

The testing kit, distributed by BioIQ, is a nasal swab that employees can administer on their own and send in for analysis. Google said employees can get up to two tests each week, and that the tests are recommended but not mandatory. 

While the program is only available to US employees, Google said it would extend the benefit to international employees next year.  

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Alarm over a mutant COVID-19 strain in the UK. Boris Johnson calls an emergency meeting to combat the more infectious coronavirus.

Boris Johnson covid
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic, inside 10 Downing Street on December 16, 2020.

  • On Friday evening, Boris Johnson held an emergency meeting to discuss a new strain of COVID-19.
  • The prime minister was handed alarming evidence about the mutant strain, according to The Telegraph.
  • The Government could introduce a travel ban on journeys in and out of London as soon as Saturday, reports the Mirror.
  • The new strain is believed to be more infectious than the original variant, scientists believe.
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On Friday evening, Boris Johnson summoned ministers to an emergency meeting to discuss a mysterious new strain of coronavirus prevalent in London and large parts of Southern England.

In the meeting, the prime minister was given alarming new evidence on the mutant strain of COVID-19. The possibility of introducing stricter lockdown restrictions as soon as Saturday was also discussed, according to The Telegraph.

Johnson is said to be weighing up imminently introducing a travel ban on journeys in and out of London to stop the spread of the strain, reports the Mirror.

It is understood that a decision has not yet been made.

The strain, referred to by scientists as ‘VUI – 202012/01’, is believed to be causing the faster spread of coronavirus in parts of the South East of England.

In Kent, the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 is higher than during the previous peak in the Spring. London, also experiencing a surge, was placed into the toughest ‘Tier 3’ restrictions this week.

Scientists believe the variant to be more infectious than the original strain. A government official told The Guardian: “There are concerns that it is more transmissible than the existing strain – and that sense is hardening.”

On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons: “Initial analysis suggests this variant is growing faster than the existing variants.”

Hancock explained that the World Health Organization had been notified about the mutant strain. At least 60 different local authorities have seen infections from this variant and scientists are currently investigating it in detail, according to the BBC

Talk of introducing tougher restrictions comes just days before the UK is expected to relax the rules for the Christmas period.

Between 23 and 27 December, people across the UK are permitted to form ‘Christmas bubbles’ with three households allowed to meet.

Scientists have warned against this Christmas relaxation and have suggested that they could lead to a national lockdown in January and February.

Johnson, on Friday, refused to rule out a potential third lockdown for England.

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Trump announces that Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for COVID-19

Rudy Giuliani
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington.

  • President Donald Trump announced Sunday that his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
  • Giuliani has made a string of public appearances in recent days as the face of Trump’s legal effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
  • He participated in several Republican events in Georgia, Michigan, and Arizona that featured few masks and little social distancing.
  • Giuliani’s son, Andrew, also recently tested positive for COVID-19, and overall, more than three dozen people in Trump’s orbit, including the president himself, received positive diagnoses.
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President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that his personal defense attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has tested positive for COVID-19.

“Rudy Giuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus,” Trump tweeted. “Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!

The former New York mayor has made a string of public appearances in recent days as the face of Trump’s faltering legal efforts to nullify the 2020 election results. Giuliani participated in multiple Republican events in Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia, which primarily featured Trump lawyers and GOP officials making vague and unspecified allegations of widespread voter fraud and election-rigging.

The events, which the GOP described as “hearings,” featured few masks and little social distancing. Giuliani was often seen mask-less while interacting with others and sitting inches away from another Trump campaign lawyer, Jenna Ellis, who was also not wearing a face covering.

Giuliani was also at a Trump legal team news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters last month. He made headlines when he was seen at the presser with hair dye trickling down his face as he coughed and blew his nose into a handkerchief, which he then used to wipe his face.

Giuliani’s son, Andrew, also tested positive for COVID-19 last month. Overall, according to New York Magazine, more than three dozen people in the president’s orbit have tested positive for the virus, including Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Barron Trump, chief of staff Mark Meadows, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, senior advisor Stephen Miller and his wife Katie, senior counselor to the president Hope Hicks, several members of the White House staff and press corps, and more.

The US currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any country in the world, with more than 14 million confirmed cases and nearly 282,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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