Google Maps adds new COVID-19 warnings as reopening grows

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Google said Monday it’s adding new features to its Maps program that are designed to provide individuals with more information about coronavirus-related restrictions for services such as public transit and local COVID-19 testing centers.

The new features are becoming available amid an increase in new coronavirus case in California as cities and counties across the state have begun to reopen after almost three months of restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the disease.

The alerts will include information such as if transit services have been disrupted or had a schedule change because of coronavirus, as well as information that shows when train or bus stations have been historically more or less busy at specific times of the day. Google Maps will also provide information for drivers about possible COVID-19 checkpoints along a highway, such as at national borders.

Google said the information for its transit alerts comes from anonymous data from individuals using Google location history, a setting in a person’s Google account that is turned off by default, and which a person has to turn on to utilize.

Additionally, Google Maps will soon provide information about eligibility requirements for local coronavirus testing locations, such as if a testing facility requires a reservation ahead of time, or if a site is limited to  a certain number of tests per day.

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