TULSA, Okla. – Community Service Council’s 211 Eastern Oklahoma call volume has surged nearly 600% after quickly transforming to operate as the official COVID-19 Call Center for the Oklahoma State Department of Health for half the state.
Officials are urging residents in Tulsa County and across Eastern Oklahoma to dial 2-1-1 if they have questions related to COVID-19 to reach 211 Eastern Oklahoma– especially if they do not have a doctor or insurance and are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms. The call center is screening COVID-19 symptoms for anyone who calls, regardless of provider/insurance status.
In addition to symptom-related inquiries, thousands of Oklahomans are also reaching out to 211 Eastern Oklahoma for connection to ever changing social services, such as food pantries and health services, and for clarity on general information related to the State’s COVID-19 response, such as executive orders and guidance from officials.
“The greatest need we are seeing right now during this pandemic is access to food/meals,” said Erin Willis, Program Director for 211 Eastern Oklahoma, Community Service Council. “This speaks to the economic crisis many folks are in right now. The good news is there are many resources still available– but it can be overwhelming for a family in crisis to know where to start. That’s where we come in.”
At its core, 211 Eastern Oklahoma is designed to transform into a 24/7 disaster response program. On a normal day, the call center serves as a connection hub to more than 7,000 community resources and services for people in need. Yet last year, in response to Tulsa’s historic flooding, the call center scaled up overnight to help thousands of Oklahomans navigate flood-related crises.
Now in 2020, 211 Eastern Oklahoma has rapidly ramped up capacity again to serve as the official COVID-19 call center for 37 counties. To meet the demand of more than 900 calls on average each day (since Mar. 15), the call center has more than tripled its number of staff – from 11 to 38, including volunteers who have stepped up from AmeriCorps – Reading Partners, Tulsa Community College and OU Health Sciences Center.
“There are countless neighbors across the counties we serve who never thought they would find themselves in need of food, housing, utility, or mental health assistance because of this pandemic,” says Pam Ballard, CEO for the Community Service Council. “211 Eastern Oklahoma serves as a bridge and a beacon to help for all, especially with so many changes and uncertainty occurring in the community right now.”
To reach 211 Eastern Oklahoma, dial 2-1-1, live chat with a specialist at 211EOK.org, or search for services by need and ZIP code at 211EOK.org. Community members can stay up-to-date on local announcements related to the pandemic by liking the @211EOK Facebook page, and will soon be able to sign up to receive COVID-19 text alerts from 211 Eastern Oklahoma.
Additionally, Community Service Council has also developed a dedicated webpage to serve as an up-to-date clearinghouse of expanded or reduced social services and resources related to COVID-19 (csctulsa.org/211EOK-COVID19).
To explore the data on 211 Eastern Oklahoma’s COVID-19 related call volume and needs, visit https://csctulsa.org/211eok-dashboard/ and click on the COVID-19 tabs.
- 211EOK Website: https://csctulsa.org/211EOK
- 211EOK COVID-19 Response Webpage: https://csctulsa.org/211EOK-COVID19
- CSC Website: https://csctulsa.org
- 211EOK Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/211EOK/
- 211EOK COVID-19 DATA available at https://csctulsa.org/211eok-dashboard/
Community Service Council is a Tulsa Area United Way partner agency