United Way organizations provide additional $55,000 to Mass 2-1-1 to help meet additional COVID-19 demand

March 21, 2020

Boston, MA – United Way chapters across the Commonwealth are committing an additional $55,000 to the operations of Mass 2-1-1 to help staff meet the high call volume due to inquiries about COVID-19 resources and assistance.  Since Mass 2-1-1 was designated on March 13, 2020 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Association as the official COVID-19 resource and referral line for residents, it has fielded more than 12,800 calls related to the crisis. 

“People are increasingly distressed about the impact that the COVID-19 virus is having on their lives,” said Michael K. Durkin, President and Chief Executive Officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.  “As we would expect, callers are inquiring about information and resources for unemployment, housing, childcare and food, among other concerns.”

Mass 2-1-1 has expanded hours and services to help meet the need.  United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley is making an emergency grant of $30,000 to help increase staff to answer the increased number of calls.  The United Way of Central Massachusetts is committing an additional $20,000 of funding to Mass 2-1-1, and the Berkshire United Way and Northern Berkshire United Way are contributing $5,000 in emergency funding.

“During this time of uncertainty, I hope everyone in the Commonwealth makes use of Mass 2-1-1,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “Thank you to the United Ways in Massachusetts for creating this service and for stepping up during this crisis to invest more funds and expand the 2-1-1 service.”

“In this way and in many others, the United Ways of Massachusetts are joining forces to help the citizens of Massachusetts have the resources necessary to say well and safe during this health crisis,” said Tim Garvin, President and CEO of United Way of Central Massachusetts.  “It is in such times of great adversity that we stand together to put enact our mission to improve the lives of those in our community.”

Massachusetts 2-1-1 is providing real-time COVID-19 information, resources, and referrals in multiple languages. Residents can call 2-1-1 to learn more about:

  • COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, and treatment
  • Information about testing
  • Guidance for people planning or returning from travel

Massachusetts 2-1-1 is open to callers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Operators fluent in Spanish are available, and more than 150 other languages are supported through an interpreter services line that is available 24/7.

Residents with questions should dial 2-1-1 from any landline or cellphone. Callers dialing 2-1-1 will hear an automated menu of options. Callers press 2-6 for coronavirus. Residents can also reach 2-1-1 through a live chat option on the Massachusetts 2-1-1 website.

In 2019, Mass 2-1-1 received 151,389 calls and had 92,279 web queries from residents of the Commonwealth seeking assistance. Mass 2-1-1 was created  in 2006 to provide information and referrals for health and human services to all residing in Massachusetts, and has been funded each year by United Way organizations across the Commonwealth, including United Ways of Tri-County, Pioneer Valley, North Central, Berkshire, Northern Berkshire, Cape and Islands, Acton-Boxborough, Greater Fall River, Greater New Bedford, Greater Plymouth County, Hampshire County, Southbridge, Sturbridge & Charlton, and Webster and Dudley, along with United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and United Way of Central Massachusetts.

About Massachusetts 2-1-1

Mass2-1-1 is the 24/7 statewide information and referral line available in 140+ languages that connects callers with critical social service programs and organizations in their local community. It can be reached by dialing 2-1-1 from any landline or cell phone in the state. Mass2-1-1 is a free information and referral service provided through funding from three contracts with the of state of Massachusetts to be their official 24-hour call line, as well as funding from 19 local United Ways across the state.