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California rolled out websites and apps to fight COVID-19 — did they work?

Cal Matters: California rolled out websites and apps to fight COVID-19 — did they work? (November 9, 2021)

Expectations for California’s digital response to the pandemic were high, given the talent in the state, said Dr. John Swartzberg, professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. The state didn’t meet those high expectations, he said, but it did pretty well given the technological capacity that state and county public health departments had at the beginning of the pandemic.

California built many new tech tools in response to the pandemic, often on a tight timeline. But the tools, such as MyTurn, the state’s vaccine portal, worked less well for older Californians, as well as those who lacked consistent internet access, or didn’t speak English fluently. Still, despite those and other complaints, experts that CalMatters spoke to thought the state did an overall positive job given the circumstances.

Directing attorney Denny Chan at Justice in Aging, a national nonprofit fighting senior poverty, said the [state’s COVID-19] site was helpful for tracking infection and vaccination rates for older Californians, and for staying up-to-date on state policy changes. “It’s helpful for me as an advocate who’s helping others and helping inform our network about all these changes.” But, he said, “I don’t believe there were a ton of older adults themselves who are on this website getting information.”

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