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State of Iowa fights spread of COVID-19 with spread of information using 211

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- The State of Iowa has now begun to fight the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, COVI-19 with the spread of information from public health experts.

Iowans can now call or text the 211 resource number and get information and questions answered about COVID-19.

Since the outbreak began there have been a lot of questions and misinformation around the virus. Informed people can make the best decisions about how to protect themselves and their families.

United Way of East Central Iowa's Senior VP of Community Building, Leslie Wright said that's why the Iowa Department of Public Health reached out to contract the help of 211.

The service already helped Iowans connect with resources and find information on more than a thousand topics from income support to housing and now COVID-19.

"They can call 211 to get basic information about what the CDC is recommending what the Iowa Department of Public Health is recommending," said Wright.

The information comes from state and county public health and emergency management experts.

This isn't the first time 211 has stepped in to help during a time of need.

"In any kind of disaster, there's a lot of call activity," said Wright, "So 211 can be a non-emergency source of information. And we had some experience with this in the flood of 2008."

The service also gave out information during the H1N1 outbreak.

At the time of the 2008 flood the call center, which was run locally by HACAP, had received more than 20,000 calls over several weeks. While the calls have not reached that level, Wright said the center is prepared.

"We know how to do that. We know how to handle the surge, and it's certainly not a surge [right now]. There have been 577 calls this week from people across the state, inquiring about COVID19," said Wright.

So far 103 calls have come from Johnson County and 41 calls have come from Linn County.

Johnson County currently has 16 positive cases, while there are none in Linn County. (Click here for the most up to date number).

The information provided by 211 can range from COVID-19 symptoms (which you can also find here), to public health recommendations on public outings, and what to do should you think you have the virus (which you can also find here).

"I think everyone's looking for guidance. You know, what should I do? Now, some questions are Can I be exposed by my pet? It's good to ask those questions and get answers that are provided by the experts," said Wright.

Information continues to change rapidly but 211 is provided with up to date information directly from public health experts.

211 is staff 24/7 and can also be reached via text message by texting your area code to the number 898-211 or to visit their website click here.

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Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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