County COVID-19 hotline utilizes additional volunteers
Published 4:55 pm Monday, April 6, 2020
Troup County rolled out its community-wide this past Wednesday hotline to respond to questions and concerns related to COVID-19 in Troup County Thursday.
Originally, employees at the Troup County Sheriff’s Office were answering the line, but due to the amount of calls, more volunteers were brought in at the Troup County Fire Department Headquarters to respond to questions.
“We were getting as many calls on our main line as the hotline about the virus,” said TCSO employee Lori Brewer. “We had double the amount of calls. Plus, we also had our normal calls we had to take.”
The hotline is being used for frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19, current Troup County services related to COVID-19, local emergency ordinance concerns as to help decrease the non-emergency calls of E-911 communications.
“911 was still overwhelmed over the weekend though with non-emergency calls though,” said Sgt. Stewart Smith.
Brewer said a few of the commonly asked questions are people asking if they can still go to work, if they need a pass to drive around or is it OK to go get food from a restaurant offering takeout.
“The No. 1 question we were asked is, ‘is there a curfew?’” Brewer said. “There is no curfew, and we have been asked that a billion times.”
Additionally, volunteers and staff answering the hotline are directing callers to the appropriate recourses across the community or state.
Brewer said they were even receiving calls from people traveling out the state through Troup County asking if they will be able to pass through.
“We were missing calls because they just kept calling us, and we couldn’t go hang up on who we were on the phone with,” said TCSO employee Mallory Donald. “The curfew questions were probably about 75 percent of it.”
Staff members answering the hotline were given training on COVID-19 information, phone numbers and frequently asked questions before having to answer calls.
“We are having daily meetings at 8:30 a.m., and were doing that before we went live with the hotline,” Smith said. “If we would have not rolled out with this hotline, 911 would have been slammed.”
On Friday, Troup County Board of Commissioners extended the hours of the COVID-19 Information Hotline to include Saturdays and Sundays.
The hotline is staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Commonly asked questions, and answers, are posted on the TCSO Facebook to help answer any questions before someone needs to call the hotline.
“The luxury of this situation right now is even though the county government is not shut down, there are a lot of departments who are able to pull staff from other agencies to help,” Smith said.
Brewer said bringing in more staff at the fire department has helped tremendously with the amount of calls they were getting.
“This has been very beneficial though for the community,” Brewer said. “We have been able to point a lot of people in the right direction.”
Additionally, within the first few days the hotline was also receiving complaints of persons and businesses violation the social distancing guidelines and closures.
They are instructing them to gov.georgia.gov and click on ‘contact us,’ and then click on ‘constituent services,’ which will prompt them to fill out a form.
The hotline can be reached at (706) 883-1719.