Apple News adds a special coverage section for tracking the coronavirus outbreak

Sarah Perez

Apple today is rolling out a dedicated section within its Apple News app that will help readers stay updated on the coronavirus outbreak. The special coverage will include informative, fact-based stories from reputable publishers, says Apple, which are curated by Apple News' team of editors.

The launch of the section comes at a time when social media platforms are struggling to reign in misinformation around the coronavirus outbreak, ranging from conspiracy theories about the virus's origins to bogus medicines, preventatives and treatments -- including those as bizarre as drinking bleach, and more. Facebook, Twitter and Google have been working with the World Health Organization to remove misinformation and to direct users to trusted resources, but the inaccurate and often dangerous information continues to spread.

With Apple News, Apple has the ability to reach millions of people through the built-in app on iPhone, iPad and Mac devices. On desktop and on mobile, users will now see a banner at the top of the Apple News homepage (the "Today" section) directing them to the special coverage on COVID-19.

When clicked, users are taken to an organized roundup of recent news stories and other information, starting with a list of the latest headlines.

Currently, stories from The New York Times, NBC News, and CNN are featured here, but other sources are also utilized, as they are elsewhere in Apple News. There's also a map showing the spread of the coronavirus, a guide to understanding the epidemic (via Ars Technica), and a section on "Your Health," with information about washing hands, which disinfectants to use, how self-quarantine works, and more.

Further down the page are other featured articles offering various perspectives, those that track the numbers of cases and a guide planning ahead. A list of resources, including links to the CDC and State.gov, are at the bottom of the section.

In addition, users can follow the "coronavirus" topic on Apple News to be alerted to the latest news at any time, the app reminds users.

This is not the first time Apple has launched a dedicated special coverage section in its Apple News app. It regularly does this for tracking election coverage in the U.S., for example. It is, however, a little late to introduce such a feature, given that all other major tech platforms had already launched their own initiatives focused on guiding users to factual, trusted resources within their own apps.

That said, Apple News is doing more than just pointing users to sites like CDC.gov or WHO.int when they perform a search for coronavirus information. It's curating content from across a variety of news publications to find the most important stories.

The special section is available today to Apple News readers on desktop and mobile.