Google pledges $800M in coronavirus aid as Apple launches screening app

Google LLC and Apple Inc. today stepped up their involvement in the global fight against the coronavirus, announcing a $800 million aid program and a COVID-19 screening tool for the public, respectively.

Google also said that it’s partnering with an Illinois-based manufacturer to donate up to 3 million face masks.

The search giant is giving away the $800 million aid in the form of capital and free advertising. More than half of the sum will go towards mitigating the impact of the coronavirus on small and midsize businesses. Google will offer $340 million worth of Google Ads credits to SMBs and plans a $200 million cash donation to financial institutions and NGOs, which will use the money to support businesses affected by the pandemic. 

“As one example, we’re working with the Opportunity Finance Network in the U.S. to help fill gaps in financing for people and communities underserved by mainstream financial institutions,” Sundar Pichai, the Chief Executive Officer of Google and parent Alphabet Inc., wrote in a blog post . “This is in addition to the $15 million in cash grants Google.org is already providing to nonprofits to help bridge these gaps for SMBs.”

Google will use the reminder of its $800 million commitment to support organizations directly involved in the effort to curb COVID-19. The search giant is providing $250 million in ad grants to help the World Health Organization and more than 100 government agencies worldwide inform people about the coronavirus. Another $20 million in Google Cloud infrastructure credits has been earmarked for research. 

The company is setting up a “pool of $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to leverage our computing capabilities and infrastructure as they study potential therapies and vaccines, track critical data, and identify new ways to combat COVID-19,” Pichai detailed.

Separately, Apple today launched a COVID-19 screening tool similar to the one Google sister company Verilyrolled out earlier this month. Users can answer a few questions about their symptoms, risk factors and recent exposure to receive guidance on what to do from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tool is available as an iOS app and in a web-based version.

Previously, the iPhone maker on Thursday revealed plans to donate 10 million face masks to the U.S. medical community. Salesforce.com Inc. and Facebook Inc. announced similar moves in recent days, while the up to 3 million masks Google pledged to contribute are expected to become available over the coming weeks.

Google shares dropped about 1.7% today and Apple is trading about 1.5% lower amid a broader stock market slump. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down approximately 1.7%, or over 370 points, even as the House passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to support the U.S. economy.

Image: Unsplash

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