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211 Eastern Oklahoma Serving as Local COVID-19 Call Center

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In this half of the state, 211 Eastern Oklahoma has taken over as the official COVID-19 call center, and things have been busy.

"Our largest day was over 1,600 calls, and prior to COVID, our average daily volume was about 200 to 250," said 211 Program Director Erin Willis.

The assistance line operated by the Community Service Council has fielded an average of more than 900 calls a day since March 15. Willis said those have been split fairly evenly between people seeking information about COVID-19 and people in need of social services.

"And a lot of people fall into both of those buckets. They may be experiencing one or more symptoms of COVID but also needing to find out how they can have meals delivered to their home or how they’re going to pay their rent," Willis said.

Call takers can help people find information about executive orders or what to do if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms along with connecting them to food, housing, mental health and other assistance.

There's also information and a live chat feature on the 211 Eastern Oklahoma website, and information on the 211 Facebook page.

Dozens of new staff members and volunteers are helping 211 Eastern Oklahoma in its new role. Willis expects staffing to stay up throughout the health crisis. Efforts similarly ramped up efforts during last spring’s floods.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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