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Newsom: Contact Tracing App, Platform Coming

The state will deploy a Web-based app on Tuesday to help residents apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance — but other solutions are also on the way, Gov. Gavin Newsom told Techwire on Friday during his daily press conference on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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The state will debut a Web-based application Tuesday, to help residents who own businesses, are self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history or are otherwise not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits, apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

It will be mobile-friendly and located on the Employment Development Department’s website, according to Crystal Page, deputy secretary for communications for the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency. The app, Page, said, was developed by IT staff from EDD, Unemployment Insurance (UI) Online and the California Department of Technology.

At least two other novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic solutions are on the way, Gov. Gavin Newsom told Techwire on Friday in response to a question during his daily news conference. One, he said, will be a contact tracing app or platform to help officials track the virus’s spread.

“We’re very close to making a more formal decision on the tracing app and platform, or at least, a number of them that have the ability to cross-pollinate information, as Google and, as you know, Apple are helping advance also, as it relates to the symptom check-ins,” Newsom said. The second app, he said, may come up during his Monday press conference, and he described it only as “beyond just even UI.”

Why doesn’t the state release apps and solutions every day? An embarrassment of riches, said the governor.

“This is what we do best. And we provide platforms, but we also have so many folks matching things up using open data, using proprietary data, putting up apps, all these new APIs every day. It’s very enlivening and exciting,” Newsom said. “The problem is it’s a wealth and it’s an abundance. And so, as soon as we’re close to pulling the trigger on a particular tracing app or even a symptoms app, someone presents us another technology that, then, raises questions of consideration on why that may be better than the other.”

Techwire will update this story as needed.

Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.