PORTLAND, Ore. — Inside a plain looking building near Portland’s airport, the phones are ringing with questions about the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. This is the headquarters for 211info in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
The workers here are getting as many as 200 calls a day about the virus after being hired by the Oregon Health Authority to handle the flood of questions.
“Folks are calling in to 211 and asking basic questions about how the virus is transmitted, what are the symptoms, where can I get tested?” said manager Cara Kangas.
The OHA supplied talking points the call-takers can pull up on their screens to answer questions. They do not answer detailed medical questions but can help people find the nearest medical clinic.
211info is a nonprofit that typically handles questions from people trying to find food, housing, utility payments or help for paying rent. It’s one of many across the country started in the mid-1990s with the help of the United Way.
Last year 211info helped Oregon answer questions about the measles outbreak. Before that, they were the hotline for the eclipse.
While its helping with the COVID-19 outbreak, you can call with questions from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. seven days a week. The calls are free and confidential. Simply dial 211.