90,000 Google employees have just received access to free weekly COVID tests. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news that every US Google employee (and its subsidiaries, including YouTube) will be eligible to sign up for a free at-home test. This differs from other companies, like Amazon, which are only offering tests to employees who still have to work in a physical location, like a retail location or warehouse.
This is apparently something Google employees are interested in, as the vendor’s website crashed after going live. Employees are promised that they’ll receive the test within two to four days of requesting one, and that they’ll get the results back within two days of the lab receiving it.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, Google is paying its partner, BioIQ, $50 per test. That comes out to $4.5 million per week when multiplied by 90,000 employees.
Of course, the $4.5 million figure is assuming that every employee takes advantage of the offer, though a Google spokesperson said the company is recommending they do. It’s also a very small cost relative to Google’s profit margins.
Google’s spokesperson also told The Verge that interns will be eligible for the program as well, and that it should be expanding to international employees in 2021. The company is hoping that the testing will help reduce the number of asymptomatic spreaders should any of its employees become infected.
In the early days of the pandemic, President Trump claimed that Google would create a website and nationwide system for getting access to COVID tests. That was not true, although an Alphabet division did briefly offer testing in some regions. Google has done other work for the public like creating a contact tracing system with Apple and improving the information it shows on its search results.
Correction: The original version of this story said that it was a Google site that crashed under the load. It was BioIQ’s site. We regret the errors.