April 2 (UPI) -- Google will lift a broad ban on coronavirus advertisements, phasing in some advertisers with a priority on those working directly on the pandemic.
The company started blocking coronavirus-related ads in January, placing them under its "sensitive events policy," which blocks ads that exploit people during events such as natural disasters, public health emergencies or tragedies by advertising fake or hoarded products.
Axios first reported that Google's head of industry, Mark Beatty, sent a memo to clients that it will start to run some coronavirus ads.
Advertisements to run this week will include public service announcements from "government entities, hospitals, medical providers, and NGOs who want to get relevant information out to the public," according to the memo.
The advertisements will be prioritized "to ensure that we are protecting users while prioritizing critical information," the company said.
Democratic political action committees staffers had said that the ban on such advertising on Google platforms had shielded President Donald Trump from ads criticizing his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Google said it will make an announcement in the next few days about political ads related to the coronavirus.
Google's YouTube also reversed its policy and started allowing ads on some videos discussing the coronavirus in March.
Despite the ban, CNBC had reported that Google was showing ads and shopping lists for products claiming to protect against the virus, such as hand sanitizers, gloves and masks, with supplies limited.
Amid some people hoarding supplies, Facebook last week banned ads claiming cures for the coronavirus.
Economic analysts predict online advertising for Facebook and Google will slow down due to advertisers limiting their spending because of businesses closing to curb the outbreak.
Meanwhile, White House experts predicted Tuesday that the coronavirus has the potential to kill 100,000 to 200,000 even with mitigation efforts, including "stay-at-home" orders and between 1.5 million and 2.2 million without mitigation.
The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide was over 980,000 with more than 50,000 deaths, according to the John Hopkins global tracker update at midday Thursday. In the United States alone, there were more than 200,000 cases and 5,000 deaths.