In an effort to boost awareness of best practices, resources and the latest information on California’s war on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the state of California has launched a new website as part of an ongoing public service campaign.
It’s the second such endeavor the state has been involved in this week, following the deployment Sunday night of a website developed in partnership with federal and local governments and a Google sister company, offering coronavirus screening and testing resources to residents in two Silicon Valley counties.
“The state is mobilizing at every level to proactively and aggressively protect the health and well-being of Californians, but we cannot fight this outbreak alone,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement, echoing verbiage from the new website. “We need the participation and support of every Californian, and that’s why we’re providing recent, relevant and reliable information. Californians need to know how to stay healthy and where they can get help. These actions are critical, and there is no doubt our collective efforts will save lives.” Among the takeaways:
• Newsom’s office bills the website as a “one-stop” destination, and part of a public awareness campaign against the virus that includes public service announcements from the state health officer and surgeon general. The site features dos and don’ts – the former including “Stay home”: the latter including “Touch your face” – as well as numbers of confirmed cases and deaths and a link to the California Department of Public Health for the latest data.
• It also features links to government services many Californians may need during the disaster and current economic climate, including a recounting of symptoms and risks and a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; information on testing and treatment; and how to apply for unemployment, disability benefits and paid family leave.
• It’s unclear whether Angelica B. Quirarte, assistant secretary for digital engagement for the California Government Operations Agency (GovOps), was involved in the creation of the website – but the timing fits. The Washington Post reported Friday that Quirarte – product owner of Alpha.ca.gov, a recent three-month sprint to reinvent ca.gov, the state’s website – would be part of what it called “a specialized digital team … racing to launch a coronavirus rapid response website … .” The Alpha project wrapped March 4.
A Tweet Wednesday afternoon from Public Digital appeared to confirm that, offering praise for Quirarte, Michael Wilkening, special adviser on Innovation and Digital Services in the Office of the Governor, and “all who worked on” the website.
While not identical, the new website’s visual look – including blue color bars, and blue and black type on a white background or shadow boxes – is similar to that of the Alpha project, which eschewed photos and graphics in favor of a sparse but quick-to-load design.