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Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, PA, USA, March 25, 2020 -- 2-1-1 is a national referral service that helps people find answers to their questions.

It’s especially needed now, in a time where people need support and information. Recently, most of the phone calls the staff at the call center get have been about coronavirus concerns.

"They just kind of need reassurance about what’s going on. Others are asking questions about symptoms. You know, what should I be watching out for?" Tom Foley, director of Healthline services, said.

To answer questions about coronavirus, the staff uses CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s information. Foley says it’s important for people to get the correct information.

"You just have to be careful of what’s out there. To make sure of what’s going on. Some of the websites that give you information probably aren’t the most reputable," Foley said.

Phones are off the hook at the northeastern Pennsylvania 2-1-1 Call Center. The director tells Eyewitness News that they’ve received 400 more calls this month than last month.

The 2-1-1 helpline isn’t just for health concerns, but is also used for utilities issues, rent assistance, and for people who are in a mental health crisis. Many people who are unemployed due to the virus closing worksplaces have questions and concerns.

"We get a lot of questions about how do I sign up for unemployment insurance. You know, am I eligible for this program, for that program?" Foley said.

Foley says the need for a helpline is clear, now and "in the future we can say okay this program is up and running and they can do this for you. Contact this group here and they can do this for you," Foley said.

Foley says the call center normally receives about 240 calls per day. Now they’re getting 60 more calls a day.


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Source: https://www.pahomepage.com

Date Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020

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