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Covered California now says a spokesman erred when he told the Los Angeles Times today that the agency overstated its online activity.

Communications Director Oscar Hidalgo said his deputy Dana Howard was confused about the exchange's web analytics when he blamed internal miscommunication for inflating the number of page views by nearly tenfold.

Late Wednesday, Hidalgo told The Bee the agency received about 514,000 unique visitors who reviewed more than 5 million pages on Tuesday. He said the state agency was proud of its first-day activity and never intended to mislead.

"That's the last thing I want," Hidalgo said. "I think the 514,000 is an incredible number."

The exchange received 7,143 applications for insurance and 19,000 calls into its service centers on opening day. Still, the website remained sluggish.

The enrollment function was taken offline at 9 p.m. Tuesday and restored about 7 a.m. Wednesday for unspecified optimization.

Enrollment was again suspended between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to address issues relating to the loading of health plan products, spokeswoman Anne Gonzales said earlier Wednesday.

"Since then, it's been up and running and working well. We will continue to make improvements along the way," Gonzales said.

Customers reporting their experiences online continued to point out sluggish performance, albeit with some improvements. Estimated wait times for the state agency's toll-free phone line dropped from highs of 30 minutes to 10 minutes when a reporter called Tuesday.

John Thomas Flynn, the state's first chief information officer under Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, has been monitoring the health insurance exchange website since its launch.

Flynn said he again tried to enroll, to no avail, and ended up having a less satisfying experience than Tuesday. Among the biggest challenges was the system freezing during several attempts to enter information, he said.

"I am going to keep trying. I am interested in this thing. I want to see it work," he said.

Enrollment operators take phone calls during the launch of Covered California in Rancho Cordova on Tuesday. Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee

Editor's note, 7:06 p.m.: This post was changed significantly from its original version.


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