Coronavirus testing centres are slowly opening up across the country, but tracking them down and finding out if you’re even eligible to take the test has been a challenge. Apple over the weekend rolled out an application for labs and businesses offering covid-19 tests to submit their information to Apple Maps, which should make it easier to find the closest testing centre.
Not just anyone can submit a testing centre’s details—you have to download Apple’s official template and send it in using a business email address. Apple will review applications to determine whether they’re legit. Once approved, those locations will start appearing on Apple Maps, marked by a red medical icon.
The map will also detail information like whether the testing centre is accessible via drive-through, or whether it’s in a parking lot or inside a building. Businesses can also specify whether the centre is in an existing lab or one that has been converted to administer covid-19 tests.
The biggest issue with covid-19 testing centres is the lack of detail around how to get a test in the first place. Most locations don’t allow just anyone to come in for a nose swab—you have to call your state health department and ask what the criteria are (exposure, symptoms, etc.).
Despite improvements in the past few weeks, access to testing across the country has remained far short of demand, leaving many people who suspect they might have coronavirus unable to obtain one.
9to5Mac noted that Apple is asking facilities to specify whether a doctor’s referral is needed so people don’t just pull up to a hospital they find on Apple Maps and demand a swab.
It’s unclear when Apple will start displaying testing centres in Apple Maps, but it’s one of several initiatives the company has launched in recent weeks. Last week, Apple partnered with Google to build a cross-platform coronavirus-tracking tool that bridges iOS and Android. The goal is that people will be able to see if they’ve come in contact with someone who has the virus. That API will be open to developers of public health apps starting in May.
Meanwhile, the drive-through testing facilities promised by President Trump more than a month ago are slowly, slowly starting to become a reality, thoug there are few drive-throughs open. Walgreens opened 15 drive-through testing centres in seven states last week. CVS has three drive-through testing centres in three states. Walmart has two. But those tests are by appointment only, so knowing where they are isn’t all that helpful with a doctor’s note.