211 Helpline Center is important resource for COVID-19 information


SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The 211 Helpline Center has been flooded with calls from people asking questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s not just about getting answers. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of being heard.

The Helpline Center in Sioux Falls has fielded more than 37-hundred COVID-19-related calls. That number is much higher than the typical call volume for this time of year.

“211 Helpline Center, what zip code are you calling from?”

People answering the phone at the Helpline Center notice the fear and the pain in the callers’ voices.

“You can just hear the anguish of uncertainty. We always like to have answers and sometimes we just don’t know where this is going,” Connection Center Manager Jamie Cody said.

Many of the callers have basic questions about COVID-19, its symptoms and how to get tested. Others want to know how they can get help if they’ve had their hours cut back or lost their jobs.

“I can’t feed my family. I can’t pay my rent. What am I going to do? So we’ll take as much information as we can from those callers and then we’ll identify the resources that are there to help them through this difficult time and get them connected to those resources,” Helpline Center CEO Janet Kittams said.

Much of the time, the callers simply want a sympathetic ear.

“They need somebody to listen. They’re feeling very anxious, they’re stressed, they’re worried. Just so much uncertainty, a lot of unknowns out there,” Kittams said.

The Helpline Center has made adjustments to the staff’s schedules and shifts to make sure there are enough people available to answer the increase in calls.

The Helpline Center has some employees working from their homes to answer calls.

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