Information about COVID-19, which has now been classified by the World Health Organization as a “global pandemic,” is evolving every hour, and the United Way of Southwest Louisiana has partnered with the Louisiana Dept. of Health and the Center for Disease Control to provide up-to-date information to the public through its crisis helpline, “211.”
Citizens can dial 211 or text 898-211 to ask questions and/or access official information regarding the coronavirus, including statistics and community resources for healthcare assistance.
Texting the keyword LACOVID to 898-211 will also generate the most current information about the outbreak as it becomes available. United Way’s accredited call specialists will have the most up-to-date information.
With Louisiana 211 now equipped and trained to answer questions from the public, the Louisiana Dept. of Health is asking residents to call 211 instead of the current general information line. Multilingual and hearing impaired services are also provided on 211.
In addition to being able to call Louisiana 211 and to sign up for text messaging, residents can get written answers to the frequently asked questions on unitedwayswla.org/coronavirus.
Over the past week, the call volume to LDH’s general information line, which was only available during business hours, has increased from several calls a day to several hundred calls.
Dr. Alex Billioux, assistant secretary for LDH’s Office of Public Health, said this change will give citizens the best way to get information any time of the day or night.
“The Louisiana 211 statewide network is established as the public’s first and best source to connect callers with critical information about health and human services,” Billioux said. “This expertise ensures that citizens can talk to a person who is trained to answer their questions 24 hours a day.”
LDH provided Louisiana 211 with a comprehensive list of questions that have come into the original information telephone line. These include questions about testing for coronavirus, symptoms and treatment and when to access medical help. Answers to all questions were provided by LDH’s medical leadership team.