Google Has Had to Adapt During This Pandemic
The entire planet is currently facing a worldwide pandemic that threatens the lives of millions. Back in December 2019, a novel coronavirus emerged from a food market in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. This coronavirus, now officially referred to as COVID-19, quickly spread across China before crossing borders and entering neighboring countries. Before too long, it swiftly spread to other continents and far away countries. Due to this swift spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
COVID-19 continues to threaten the lives of millions across the globe. To protect the citizens of Earth, many government bodies have had to make some difficult decisions. Many of these include stay-at-home orders, which orders residents to stay in their homes unless they need to leave for essential business or errands. While many industries and businesses have been deemed essential, many have not, which has left an increasing number of people out of work. Along with these stay-at-home orders, governments have advised businesses to allow their employees to work from home if possible.
Many large companies have experienced a direct impact, as well. Google is one such company that has seen its operations altered due to COVID-19. They have also adjusted their services to help other businesses. Google My Business has seen significant changes for the time being to aid struggling businesses during this time. As Tech Critic continues to monitor the pandemic plaguing the world, we are also following how major companies like Google are responding and how it affects smaller businesses.
What is COVID-19?
As we have already stated, COVID-19 is just one in a family of zoonotic viruses. This means that they spread from animals to humans. COVID-19 is just the most recent to spread across the world. In 2003, a SARS outbreak began to spread, starting in Asia and claiming the lives of nearly 800 people. Furthermore, beginning in 2012, the first MERS case surfaced in Saudi Arabia and killed over 800 people. However, COVID-19 has already outpaced both SARS and MERS in confirmed cases and fatalities.
At the time of this writing, COVID-19 has:
- Over 1.2 million confirmed cases
- Over 67,000 confirmed deaths
To stay up to date on the global pandemic, visit WHO’s dashboard for regular updates. All businesses and residents must stay up to date and safe when dealing with the current virus.
We’ve mentioned throughout this article that many government bodies have responded to the crisis at hand by making difficult decisions. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued an extension through April 30 to his initial stay-at-home order. While Abbott does not consider this order an official stay-at-home order, he does advise residents to remain home unless they need to leave for essential work or errands, such as going to the doctor or grocery store. This order also extended the ban on gatherings of ten or more people.
This extension means that people who have been out of work will continue to be out of work for the foreseeable future. Texas isn’t the only state to make an order such as this, and they won’t be the last. While they are made with the intention of keeping the public healthy and safe, these orders have a direct impact on the livelihoods of millions across the United States.
As with countless other businesses across the globe, Google has taken steps to ensure the health and safety of its employees by reducing the need for them to come to the office. Because of this decision, there will be temporary limitations and delays to their support as they prioritize other important functions.
During this ongoing pandemic, Google’s focus is providing users with quality and useful information on Google Search and Maps, such as whether a business is open or not and what some businesses are doing throughout this period. Currently, Google is emphasizing:
- Edits critical to health-related businesses
- Reviews for open and closed states
- Reviews for special hours, temporary closures, businesses descriptions, and business attribute edits
As expected, all businesses should expect to see delays in Google’s service due to its limited workforce, but other merchants should expect longer delays as their team focuses on prioritized edits. Google encourages all businesses to actively and openly communicate with their customers through their attributes and posts to keep them up to date.
Google’s team will be manually reviewing new listings, claims, and verifications for important health-related businesses, so you should expect a delay on listings, claims, and verifications while they work through these critical businesses. Additionally, Google has disabled all reviews, review replies, short names, all videos, and Q&A during this time.
Google Partners with the U.S. Government
Google is dedicated to providing its users with information to keep them informed and to help them take the necessary steps to stay healthy and safe. Google partnered with the U.S. government to develop a website about COVID-19 to provide users with vital information about the virus, prevention, and local resources around the country. This site includes best prevention practices, links to authorities in healthcare like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and useful tips for individuals, teachers, and businesses.
Additionally, Google is also doing whatever they can to help users find timely and relevant information on COVID-19. On its homepage, Google is promoting the “Do the Five” campaign, a partnership with WHO, to raise awareness on simple practices people can do to slow the spread of the virus. These tips have been seen by millions already since they were first posted.
On YouTube, Google is using its homepage to redirect users to videos that provide vital information regarding the current pandemic from credible health agencies like the CDC. Google has also made an effort in ridding their sites of misinformation surrounding COVID-19 on YouTube, Google Maps, Play, and on ads.
As the situation surrounding COVID-19 progresses, many companies like Google are being forced to make changes to their way of business to ensure the health and safety of their employees. However, that hasn’t stopped it from being a source of useful information and a trusted ally for many healthcare organizations. While Google has limited and delayed some of its services at this time, it is focusing much of its resources on raising awareness on COVID-19 education and prevention. Tech Critic will continue to monitor the situation, including how businesses like Google respond, to keep our team safe and our customers informed.