COVID-19 FAQ

Read common questions we receive about the Baseline COVID-19 program.

What is the Baseline COVID-19 Program?

The Baseline COVID-19 Program was established as part of California’s community-based testing program under the direction of the California Department of Public Health. The Baseline COVID-19 Program is a connected and secure solution to support individuals from screening through testing and receipt of their test results, which is done under physician direction. Unlike a simple digital screener, this connected solution enables follow-up with individuals who are screened for future testing based on changes in screening criteria. This program has already screened thousands of individuals in California and is expanding to other states. The Baseline COVID-19 Program is collaborating with other healthcare partners to expand access to testing.

What is Project Baseline?

Project Baseline is an initiative to make it easy and engaging for people to contribute to the map of human health and participate in clinical research. The Baseline platform is purpose-built for securely managing personal health information and has been in use for several years. In collaboration with the California Governor’s office, federal, state, and local public health authorities, the Baseline platform is being used to facilitate screening and testing people for COVID-19.

What is Verily?

Project Baseline was founded by Verily, an Alphabet company focused on life sciences and healthcare and a sister company to Google.

Is this only available in California?

We initially worked with the California Department of Public Health to direct high-risk individuals to newly-launched testing centers across the state. These sites are a part of the California community-based testing program, in conjunction with federal guidelines.

As testing capabilities expand, we will work with the state of California and other local public health authorities and healthcare partners to scale to provide risk screening to more populations.  We have developed and published a guide with input from the California Department of Public Health that includes tips and best practices to help other communities launch testing sites, and instructions on how to integrate with the Baseline COVID-19 Program.

Where are the current testing sites?

Check this list for cities where testing is available. New sites are added weekly.

I don’t see my city or my state on the list of test locations. Will more test sites be opening?

We are actively working with local public health authorities and healthcare partners to scale the program and provide risk screening to more populations.

If you do not see your city listed, please check back - New sites are added weekly. 

We have developed and published a guide with input from the California Department of Public Health that includes tips and best practices to help other communities launch testing sites, and instructions on how to integrate with the Baseline COVID-19 Program.

Is the screener available to non-U.S. residents?

You do not need to be a U.S. resident. To be eligible for testing you must currently live in one of the Baseline COVID-19 Program testing locations.

Is the testing available for English speakers only?

As the effort moves out of the pilot phase, you can expect to see multiple languages offered, starting with Spanish. 

If you do not speak English or the other languages offered through this program at this time, you can have an English-speaking family member or friend help you complete enrollment and fill out the screener survey. Please note that this person should also be available to assist you at the test site and with emails and other communications about your results.

How is this testing program different from going to the doctor?

If you do not have healthcare insurance, you can get tested through this program at no cost to you - you will not be charged. 

The other key difference is that our testing sites are not currently able to provide acute medical attention. We encourage you to contact your healthcare provider if you need acute or medical-related care.

Will this affect my insurance or medical services?

Testing at any Rite Aid site will not result in charges to your insurance carrier regardless of whether insurance information is collected.

NON-CALIFORNIANS

Participating in this testing program will not affect your insurance or medical services.  We will not share any information with your insurance company, primary care physician or other providers without your permission; however, information may be shared with health care professionals and clinical laboratories involved in collection and processing of any biospecimens in connection with the Baseline COVID-19 Program. You and your doctor will continue to make decisions about your care.

CALIFORNIANS

If you live in California and have health insurance, you will be asked to provide your insurance information to schedule an appointment. We are asking for insurance information in order to ensure testing costs are distributed appropriately across insurers, state, and federal government funds. Your health insurance information will only be used by third parties for the purpose of submitting claims for reimbursement to your health insurance plans for the services they provide.

Why do I need to share my health insurance information if I live in California?

We are asking for health insurance information in order to ensure testing costs are distributed appropriately across insurers, state and federal government funds. Most health insurance plans will cover the full cost of testing. 

We encourage you to check with your health insurance plan to see if they will cover testing through this program, particularly if you have any of the following plans: 

  • short-term, limited-duration insurance
  • retiree-only health plans

For more information, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/healthcare/.

What if I don’t have health insurance?

If you do not have insurance, you can still receive testing through this program. Testing will be provided at no cost to you.

How much does it cost to be tested?

If you are not in California, COVID-19 testing is available at no cost to you, regardless of your health insurance status. 

If you’re in California, you will be asked to provide your health insurance information to schedule an appointment. Most health insurance plans will cover the full cost of testing, at no expense to you. If you don’t have insurance, you will not be charged for the services provided.  

We encourage you to check with your health insurance plan to see if they will cover testing through this program, particularly if you have any of the following plans: 

  • short-term, limited-duration insurance
  • retiree-only health plans

How is Rite Aid involved?

Rite Aid is one of the Baseline COVID-19 Program's partners. Some of the testing sites listed here are at Rite Aid store locations. We are continuing to expand and add new sites. Regardless of which test site you are closest to, you will still follow this same process to complete the screener and schedule testing.

How is testing eligibility determined?

Eligibility is determined in coordination with local health officials. The screening questions provide information to public health authorities and help prioritize individuals for scheduling based on site capacity.

If you previously took the screener and were not eligible based on previous criteria, you will be able to retake it starting May 15th. Simply sign back in to do so.

Why am I not eligible for testing through this program if I have severe symptoms?

If you are experiencing severe symptoms, testing through this program is not the right fit because our mobile testing sites are not currently prepared to provide acute medical attention.  

If you have severe symptoms, please talk with your doctor or a medical professional.

My child is under 18, but I’m concerned they need to be tested. Can I fill out the screener questions for them?

Unfortunately no. At this time, only those who are 18 years or older are eligible through this program, and anyone who is prioritized for testing will need to provide your reference ID number and a valid photo ID to confirm identity at the testing site. Please consult with your physician if you have concerns about your family’s health.

I was told that at this time there are no tests available due to limited capacity. What should I do?

Our ability to offer testing is limited by the number of appointments available. Unfortunately this means that we cannot guarantee you will be scheduled within a certain timeframe. Please check back tomorrow by logging in to your projectbaseline.com home page. More appointments are made available each day.

Please continue to monitor your personal health and follow the CDC guidance (www.cdc.gov). 

Can I reapply for testing? Can I fill out the screening survey again? I entered it incorrectly.

You can reapply for testing. Log in to your projectbaseline.com home page and you will see a rescreener task card appear 3 days after your previous screening survey submission. You can click on that task card to begin the rescreening process. If for some reason you are not presented with a rescreening task card, you can contact us by clicking on the phone/email button at the bottom right hand corner. You will be able to retake the screener survey and schedule a test appointment, as long as there is testing capacity.

Why am I being asked to sign an authorization form?

We need your authorization to collect, use and share information in compliance with multiple health regulations and that authorization must be provided before screening begins. The services the Baseline COVID-19 Program is providing inherently require the limited and responsible sharing of information with other groups. Specifically, this information is being used by Departments of Public Health for their operational and planning purposes. In addition, we need to share this information with companies that are performing the testing onsite or laboratories that are running the test. This sharing is fundamental to the coordination of services and is done on limited terms to achieve the purposes of the Baseline COVID-19 Program. Verily is committed to protecting the security and privacy of individual health data entered through the Program.

Why am I asked to create an account?

For the Baseline COVID-19 Program to work, Verily needs a way to authenticate users to appropriately protect their information. Verily turned to Google for this service because Google Account provides best in class authentication. We ask that you link to an existing Google Account or create a new Google Account (which can be done with any email address) for authentication purposes and so that we may securely and privately contact you during the screening and testing process. All the data provided by Baseline COVID-19 Program users for screening is stored separately and not directly linked to a user’s Google Account, which is used for authentication purposes. 

How will you protect my privacy and my data?

The Baseline COVID-19 Program was designed with the privacy and security of personal health information at the forefront. Verily’s Baseline COVID-19 Program is supported by our existing Baseline platform, which was built to securely manage personal health information and designed to follow applicable federal and state regulations governing the collection and use of an individual's data. Data collected by Verily from individuals is used and disclosed in accordance with the permissions obtained through our authorization form and data is stored in advanced systems with security and privacy protocols.

Verily’s Baseline COVID-19 Program uses Google infrastructure, security services, data storage, website hosting, and other support functions to safely store and protect the data collected on the COVID-19 Program website. Google has a world class team of security and privacy experts dedicated to building, maintaining, and evolving defenses for the Google ecosystem. Google works diligently to keep its infrastructure, code, data, and other intangible assets secure from unauthorized access, alteration, and disclosure. More information about Google’s secure infrastructure design can be found at its Infrastructure Security Design Overview (available at https://cloud.google.com/security/infrastructure/design/).

Will anyone else contact me about my results? Why am I getting a call from the health department?

PWNHealth is required by law to report any positive COVID-19 PCR results to state or local health departments. You may be contacted to discuss who you’ve been in close contact with. It may be helpful to start thinking of the people you were in close contact with, beginning 2 days before your symptoms started (or if no symptoms, 2 days before you had your test taken). If you have additional questions, please contact your local health department or visit the CDC website.

Who will my data be shared with?

Verily will have access to information that directly identifies you, including your name, street address, email address, phone number, health insurance information (if applicable), and survey responses. This information may also be provided to Verily’s contractors, the healthcare professionals who collect your specimen, the clinical laboratory that processes your specimen, the entity that is operating the site and its contractors, the state Department of Public Health and potentially other federal, state, and local health authorities, and other entities that assist with the testing program.

The information collected will be used to perform the test, administer and improve the testing program, and for public health purposes. Your health insurance information will only be used by third parties for the purpose of submitting claims for reimbursement to your health insurance plans for the services they provide.

Your test results may be provided to Verily and further shared with public health authorities, to inform public health actions to help protect our community.

Verily uses Google infrastructure, security services, data storage, website hosting, and other support functions to safely store and protect the data collected on the COVID-19 Program website. Google’s access to data is strictly limited to the purpose of providing such services. All the data provided by Baseline COVID-19 Program users for screening is stored separately and not directly linked to a user’s Google Account, which is used for authentication purposes.

To learn more, read our privacy policy.

How do I get tested?

There are two steps to this process: screening and testing. First, you will create an account and take the online screener. If your answers from the screener determine you are eligible at this time, you will receive details on how and where to get tested. Once tested, you’ll be informed via email or phone when your COVID-19 test results are available.

What type of test is being used in this program?

The test method the Verily COVID-19 Baseline Testing Program is using is called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). PCR tests check for genetic material (viral RNA) produced by the virus. This determines if an individual is actively infected with COVID-19. Please note that this test does not screen for antibodies.

Test methods may vary across sites as the program expands to new locations.

What happens during the swab collection process?

The swab collection process varies from site to site. Look to your appointment confirmation email for detailed information on what to expect at your test site.

METHOD 1  - Qualified healthcare personnel will perform the swab collection. This will be done by having you tilt your head back while a trained healthcare professional inserts a sterile swab into your nostril towards the back of your nose. The swab will be inserted to a depth about the distance from your outer nose to the outer opening of the ear. Once inserted, it will be held in place for a few seconds then slowly removed with mild rotation. This may cause temporary discomfort.

METHOD 2 - You will be asked to perform a self-administered swab collection. Personnel on site will be present to provide a demonstration and answer any questions about the process from a safe distance.  A new sample kit will be placed on a sanitized table next to the drive-up spot. On their signal, you will open your car window to grab the sample kit. You’ll open the wrapper on the swab and place the soft end of the swab midway into your nostril, rotate the swab twice, and then hold the swab in place for 15 seconds. You’ll repeat this step in your other nostril. You’ll then open the provided sample collection tube and place the swab, soft-side first, down into the tube. Finally, you’ll snap off the end of the swab stick,  replace the tube cap, and place your sample on the table.

Can I cancel or reschedule my test appointment?

We recommend that you continue with your test appointment, regardless of your current symptoms. Testing is an important part of tracking and understanding the impact of COVID-19. If you wish to cancel or reschedule your appointment, simply log in to do so.

I don’t have a car. How should I get to the testing site?

Based on the CDC’s guidelines, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 you should avoid taking public transit, taxis, or ride-shares to avoid putting others at risk. You can find more guidelines on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.

We currently offer pedestrian accessible testing at the following sites: 

  • Daly City, CA
  • East Palo Alto, CA
  • Middletown, CA
  • Oakland (Elmhurst), CA*
  • San Jose (PAL Stadium), CA 
  • San Francisco (Tenderloin), CA*

We are working to launch more pedestrian and mobile testing. Please check back at projectbaseline.com/coronavirus for future updates.

* Pedestrian access only

How are the pedestrian access sites different from the drive-thru sites?

Most of our test sites are drive-thru sites, requiring you to be in a vehicle when you arrive for your test appointment. We are working to launch more pedestrian accessible and mobile testing in order to increase access to testing for those who do not have a car. 

The pedestrian access site experience will be similar to the drive-thru experience, except you will not be in your vehicle when getting tested. There will be clear signage and site staff available to direct you. 

Please follow the same general guidance provided to testers attending drive-thru sites. Avoid bringing others with you to your test appointment, bring your valid photo ID and test appointment confirmation email, and follow CDC guidelines for minimizing exposure. If your symptoms should become severe before your test appointment, please seek medical attention.

Can someone drive me to my test appointment?

We want to minimize the number of people coming to the site to limit exposure. However if you need assistance someone else can drive you to your test appointment if you are unable to do so. You can be seated in the passenger side seat and proceed through the testing process.

Can I bring someone with me to the appointment?

Please try not to bring anyone to the appointment who is not being tested through this program, especially if they are feeling unwell. The exception would be for those who require a means of transportation for accessibility reasons. Those who are eligible and prioritized for testing will need to provide their reference ID number and a valid photo ID to confirm identity at the testing site.

Please consult with your physician if you have concerns about your family’s health.

My family member/roommate has an appointment, too. Can we drive together?

If you are both scheduled through this program, you can be in the same car and drive together as long as your appointments are at the same testing site and scheduled on the same day. Please try not to bring anyone to the appointment who is not being tested through this program, especially if they are feeling unwell.

I can’t find my eligibility email with my Reference ID #. What do I do?

The email was sent to the email address that you used to set up your  Project Baseline COVID-19 account. You may have created a new Google Account when you registered for the Baseline COVID-19 Program.

Please search your inbox for an email titled “You’re eligible for COVID-19 testing”. It was sent from no-reply@projectbaseline.com. 

You can add this email address to your contacts to ensure it does not get routed to your spam folder.

I need my results by a certain date due to a specific reason/commitment. Will I get my results in time?

The typical timeframe to receive your results is within 1-3 days; however this may be longer depending on lab capacity. We understand the importance and urgency in receiving your results in a timely manner, but we cannot guarantee that you will receive your result by a specific date. Your doctor or local hospital may be able to recommend COVID-19 testing alternatives that may be a better fit for your needs.

My testing appointment is scheduled, but I haven’t received a confirmation email with my appointment details. What do I do?

Please be aware that you may not receive your testing appointment confirmation email immediately after your appointment is scheduled. Our team is working as fast as possible to get your test details in order, but you may experience a delay in receiving this email.

Please search your inbox and spam folder for an email title “Your COVID-19 test appointment” from no-reply@projectbaseline.com

You can add this email address to your contacts to ensure it does not get routed to your spam folder.

If you are unable to recover your confirmation email, you may still go to your appointment with your Reference ID number and a photo ID that matches the Name and Date of Birth you registered with.

What is considered a valid form of photo ID?

The recommended forms of photo ID include:

  • driver's license
  • state issued license
  • passport

Please note that you must display the physical ID - a photo or photo copy will not be accepted. 

Some sites may accept a legal photo ID (such as a school photo ID) WITH a birth certificate, on a case-by-case basis.

I’ve completed the COVID-19 testing. When can I expect my results?

We estimate that those tested will receive results within 1-3 days, however this may be longer depending on test processing. Lab capacity has been extremely limited in the early days of state-wide testing, and that capacity is steadily increasing over time.

It's been over 3 days since I completed the COVID-19 testing, but I am still waiting on my results. What should I do?

Please log in to your projectbaseline.com home page to check for result updates.

In case it has been over 3 days since your test and you have not received your results, please reach out to covid19@pwnhealth.com. You will also receive an email from PWNHealth when your results are available.

What do I do if I am an essential worker awaiting test results?

If you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19 or that you have been exposed to the virus, you should consult your place of work for specific guidance about whether to stay home or continue working.

I have been tested and received my results. Can I get retested?

Regardless of your result, you will automatically be able to schedule a retest 24 hours after you receive your test results. Log in to your projectbaseline.com home page in order to schedule a new test. 

What can I expect if I test positive for COVID-19?

In the case of a positive result, you will receive a physician consultation, which will explain the result and provide guidance on self-isolation. 

After this consultation, you are responsible for following up with your own physician and should seek medical care if your symptoms become severe.

I am already a member of Project Baseline, and I want to participate in the COVID-19 program. What should I do?

If you are an existing Project Baseline Community or Health Study member, use the COVID-19 Program card on your Home Page in your member portal to complete the COVID-19 Screener.

If you just signed up for the Project Baseline Community Study and you live within 50 miles from a testing site (check here for a list of locations), the COVID-19 Program card will appear in your member portal within 12 hours. Please check then and log in to your projectbaseline.com home page to complete the COVID-19 Screener.