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Characterizing the Landscape of Safety Net Programs and Policies in California during the COVID-19 Pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic prompted rapid and innovative policymaking around the world at the national, regional, and local levels. There has been limited work to systematically document and characterize new and expanded local U.S. pandemic-era policies, which is imperative to better understand the policy variation and resulting health impacts during this unprecedented time. California, the most populous U.S. state, provides a case example of a particularly active policy response. The aim of this Brief Report is to summarize the creation and potential areas of application of a newly created publicly available California- and US-based COVID-19 policy database. We generated an extensive list of California and US policies that were modified or created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From July-November 2021, we searched current and historical California and federal government websites, press releases, social media, and news sources and recorded detailed information on these policies, including coverage dates, eligibility criteria, and benefit amounts. This comprehensive dataset includes 39 public health, economic, housing, and safety net programs and policies implemented at both federal and state levels and provides details of the complex and multifaceted policy landscape in California from March 2020 to November 2021. Our database is publicly available. Future investigators can leverage the information systematically recorded in this database to rigorously assess the short- and long-term effects of these policies, which will in turn inform future preparedness response plans in California and beyond.

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