COVID-19 Hotline Callers Seek Clarifications on Returning to Work
Governor Inslee’s recent announcement of a phased approach for re-opening the state’s economy appears to have prompted a bump in calls into the state’s COVID-19 hotline about getting back to work. The Washington 211 network has answered over 50,000 calls since early March through the statewide hotline number (1-800-525-0127). While callers into the state’s COVID-19 hotline are still mostly interested in knowing what symptoms to look for and where to be tested, the most active category of questions the day after the Governor’s announcement dealt with “returning to work.” As might be expected, there were questions about workplace protocols (callers were referred to the guidance page from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and questions about when certain professional offices such as physical therapists and dentists will open.

First Quarter 211 Call Data Shows Jump in Rental Assistance Requests
Over 27,000 information requests this year, more than one-fourth of the total requests coming into the 211 line statewide (both regular 211 and COVID hotline), have been for housing and shelter. While this topic historically has been active, the difference this year is the increase in people seeking assistance in paying rent, and other fees associated with retaining housing. The Washington 211 line received nearly 10,500 requests for rental assistance referrals in the first three months of 2020 compared to 6,729 during the previous three months. A similar jump in requests for food assistance also happened during that time. You can review the numbers statewide and get breakouts by county, legislative and congressional districts and by zip code at Washington 211 Counts

Kimberly-Clark Rolls Out the Toilet Paper and Cash Donations
This March, Washington 211 received word from Rachael Krausman, Senior Director for 211 at United Way Worldwide, that a large donation of Cottonelle toilet paper would be available to local United Ways across the country that had warehouse space to accept and store 60 pallets, and the ability to quickly distribute to those in need. The donation is a part ofKimberly-Clark’s partnership with United Way Worldwide to deliver 1 million rolls to communities across America. After reaching out to the United Ways of the Pacific Northwest and the Washington State Joint Information Center to determine how to logistically accept and distribute such a large donation, it was determined that coordinating the donation through the state’s Hunger Relief Network would be the best solution. Food Lifeline, which provides 134,000 meals daily to those in need, agreed to store the donation and received the shipment of toilet paper this week. Food Lifeline will be sharing the donation with Northwest Harvest and Second Harvest who in turn will distribute out to their partner food banks and pantries across Washington State. Kimberly-Clark has also donated $1 million to United Way Worldwide’s COVID-19 Community Response & Recovery Fund and is prepared to add an additional $100,000 — one dollar a time when people participate in a social media campaign using the hashtag #ShareASquare through June 1 when encouraging neighbors to share their toilet paper.

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