3.5 million. Twice.

Two pandemic milestones intersected this week at counts of 3.5 million. On July 15, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. reached 3.5 million. Five days later, requests to 2-1-1 helplines during the pandemic hit the same number.

Mental health requests in Ohio vary by age and sex during COVID

How do men and women differ in their mental health requests to 2-1-1 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and do differences vary further by age? To explore these questions in a preliminary way, we analyzed 768 mental health requests to 2-1-1 from five counties in Ohio.

Finding food in Florida: Needs vary by region

Food needs in Florida are high since COVID-19, but vary by region with rates of food pantry requests highest in the panhandle, SNAP requests highest around Orlando, and home-delivered meal requests highest on the southeastern coast.

June summary: rent assistance and COVID-19 lead all 2-1-1 requests

Requests to 2-1-1 for rent assistance and COVID-19 information topped all categories in June, while requests for low-cost housing and help buying food increased the most over May. Average daily requests to 2-1-1 for all needs increased slightly (+3%) from May to June, and requests in June remain well-above pre-COVID-19 levels (+28%).

2-1-1 rent requests rise with Milwaukee eviction filings

Eviction filings fell to near zero in Milwaukee during its temporary eviction ban in the early months of COVID-19. However, as the ban grew closer to expiring, rent assistance requests to 2-1-1 more than tripled.

Trends in COVID-19 requests to Connecticut 2-1-1

In Connecticut, requests to 2-1-1 for COVID-19 information are declining as the pandemic wears on while requests for COVID-19 diagnostic testing are rising rapidly. Moreover, most requests for COVID information are received by phone, while an overwhelming majority of requests for diagnostic testing are coming from online searches of 2-1-1’s resource database.

Percent of calls about COVID-19 higher in states relying on 2-1-1

States that are partnering with 2-1-1s in their COVID response are generating more COVID requests to 2-1-1. The charts below show requests for COVID-19 information each day during the pandemic as a proportion of all requests received. In states that partnered with 2-1-1, a larger proportion of requests were COVID-related.

Housing needs rise as Wisconsin eviction ban lifted

Housing requests to 211 Wisconsin for rent assistance and help finding shelters are rising after a temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures ended. We analyzed 23,802 requests for rent assistance and shelters made to 211 Wisconsin before, during and after the temporary ban.

After 2-month decline, medical transportation needs rising

Requests to 2-1-1s for health services and medical transportation are rising in tandem. Before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, requests for medical transportation averaged between 80 and 100 requests a day. By April, they had declined to less than 40 requests per day, as in-person health care visits dropped. Requests to 2-1-1s for medical transportation are increasing again, and now average over 60 requests per day.

Tax time… in July?

2020 looked like any other year for 2-1-1s helping link callers to tax preparation assistance. Until COVID-19, that is. Less than a week after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the Federal Government extended the deadline for filing tax returns until July 15, 2020. As the chart shows, the effect of the federal extension is clear. […]

12 trends from the first 3 months of COVID-19

Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, requests to 2-1-1s in the U.S. are trending up for child care, low-cost housing, landlord-tenant issues, legal assistance, health services and mental health services.

A new normal for 2-1-1 food requests?

Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, food requests to 2-1-1s in the U.S. seem to be stabilizing. The new rate is more than double what it was pre-COVID.

Big differences in COVID needs for high and low poverty neighborhoods

Since COVID-19, people in high-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to call 2-1-1 seeking help with food and housing while those from low-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to call about healthcare, which includes information about COVID risks, protections, symptoms and testing.

One pandemic, five distinct periods (so far)

As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches the 3-month mark, we can identify four distinct periods in the volume of requests to 2-1-1 it has generated. A fifth period is now beginning, and early signs indicate it may bring a new twist.

Phone vs. web requests to 2-1-1 during COVID

Requests to 2-1-1 can come by phone or through web searches, and new analyses suggest needs differ by modality. During COVID-19, a much larger proportion of web searches are seeking help with food, while phone requests are more likely to focus on housing, healthcare and mental health needs.

Food needs in low-poverty ZIPs trending up?

In an earlier report, we noticed that food requests to 2-1-1s from low-poverty ZIP codes had larger percentage increases from pre- to post-COVID than ZIP codes with higher poverty rates. Eight weeks later, the same pattern seems to be holding.

COVID trends for top 3 housing needs

When Americans call 2-1-1 with housing-related needs, 80-90% of all requests are for rent assistance, shelters, or low-cost housing. However, the trends for each in 2-1-1 requests since COVID-19 differ, and only low-income housing requests are still rising 12 weeks after the pandemic began.

Tourist towns hurt by COVID

COVID-19 has been economically devastating to the leisure and hospitality industries and many people who work in them. Popular tourist destinations such as Las Vegas, NV, Atlantic City, NJ and Myrtle Beach, SC have seen dramatic increases in 2-1-1 calls since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Rent needs higher since COVID in cities with more service workers

Rent assistance requests to 2-1-1 helplines since COVID are higher in cities with a larger proportion of workers in personal care and service occupations. As the percent of the workforce in personal care and service jobs increases, so too does the rate of requests for help paying rent.

Childcare needs rise as states reopen

Requests for childcare assistance are on the rise at 2-1-1 helplines. The steady increase in requests for childcare during May coincides with states reopening after COVID-related shutdowns.

Low-poverty ZIP codes need food help, too

Although low-poverty ZIP codes account for less than 5% of 2-1-1 requests for food assistance, they have risen faster and declined more slowly than calls from ZIP codes with much higher levels of poverty.

1.65 million requests

2-1-1s in two states (NJ, FL) have now received over a quarter million requests each since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and requests for assistance have topped 50,000 in 10 other states. New Jersey has not only received the most requests, but also has the highest rate of 2-1-1 requests per 100,000 population.

Food needs soar, Monroe County (NY) responds

In a new analysis of more than 1,500 U.S. counties, Monroe County, NY stands above the rest in responding to COVID-related food needs. Its 2-1-1/LIFE LINE Program has seen a whopping 1455% increase in food pantry requests from pre- to post-COVID-19.

A roller coaster of social needs in Nebraska

Up, then down, then up again. Requests to 2-1-1 started rising again in a second wave of calls. This may be due to the large number of coronavirus outbreaks in the state related to meat packing plants.

Meat packing update: Iowa needs surge again

In Black Hawk County, Iowa, calls to 2-1-1 for housing, food and health care needs tripled as the pandemic began. Then a COVID-19 outbreak closed the county’s Tyson Foods’ pork packing plant. The resulting second surge was even bigger than the first.

Milestone: 250,000 housing requests

A quarter million calls for help. With more Americans missing rent and mortgage payments due to the economic fallout from COVID-19, 2-1-1s passed another milestone. On May 5th, 2-1-1s passed 250,000 requests for housing assistance.

2-1-1s getting noticed for COVID work

2-1-1s are responding to record-breaking call volume across the U.S., and people are noticing. A search of “211” in the news section of any web browser yield thousands of results in the last month alone. While most are only brief mentions referring readers and viewers to 2-1-1 for help, many are covering the story of 2-1-1s’ response to COVID-related needs.

Milestone: 200,000 housing requests since COVID

2-1-1s don’t shut down on weekends, especially not in a pandemic. Last weekend, the 24/7/365 helplines passed 200,000 requests for housing assistance since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and that only counts requests from 2-1-1s participating in a daily tracking system.

2-1-1 requests top 1 million since COVID-19

A major milestone was reached this week, as requests to a large group of 2-1-1 helplines exceeded 1 million since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11th.  The one millionth request came on April 16th. 

One month ago: Biggest day in 2-1-1 history?

February 11th (i.e., 2-11) is recognized each year as National 2-1-1 Day. But if you’re looking for the most significant date in 2-1-1 history, it’s probably March 18th, 2020. One month ago today, 2-1-1s recorded the greatest number of requests in single day, 46,399, and that counts only the requests received by 2-1-1s in 24 […]

10 Hot Spots for Social Impact of COVID-19

Minnehaha County, SD tops the list of counties with the greatest increase in requests for help from 2-1-1 helplines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Massachusetts, Florida and South Dakota all had at least two counties in the Top Minnehaha County, SD tops the list of counties with the greatest increase in requests for help from 2-1-1 […]

UPDATE: High-poverty ZIP codes and COVID social needs in 31 states

Last Sunday’s report, “High-poverty ZIP codes hurting most for food, rent during COVID-19,” was so popular that we recreated it including all 31 states for which 2-1-1 data are available. This is up from the original seven states, and we’ve also added four more days of data, through yesterday. In all, we analyzed over 150,000 […]

A different kind of first responder

There is one group of unsung COVID-19 heroes that you can hear but never see. As we rightfully celebrate workers in healthcare, grocery stores, and other essential services, Focus-19 wants to recognize the country’s 2-1-1 specialists whose voices greet callers in need nearly 1,000 times every hour. These professionals are America’s first responders for information, […]

High-poverty ZIP codes hurting most for food, rent during COVID-19

People living in high poverty ZIP codes make up 10% of the population but account for 39% of all requests for food assistance during COVID-19. They also account for a disproportionate share of requests for help with rent or mortgage payments. We examined over 50,000 requests for food, rent and mortgage assistance received by 2-1-1 […]

Childcare and transportation

Until today, our Focus-19 space has highlighted social needs that have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. But some requests have actually declined. We examined requests to 2-1-1 helplines for transportation and childcare assistance and found that both are falling. The charts below show daily requests for childcare (top chart) and transportation (bottom chart) received by […]

Where are food, rent and other needs rising and falling?

After 4 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, what changes can we see in Americans’ need for assistance with food, rent and other social needs? Data from 2-1-1 helplines indicate that it varies a lot by state. Requests for food assistance are still dramatically higher than normal in all states, but starting to gradually decline in […]

COVID-19 food, rent, utility needs in MO

Food requests in Missouri are more than twice as high as usual, but gradually declining from a COVID-19 peak on March 23rd. In contrast, there is no indication that the COVID-19 increase in requests for rent assistance is declining. We examined daily requests for food, rent and utility payment assistance received by the United Way […]

2-1-1s: More unemployment pain to come?

For two consecutive weeks, new unemployment claims have set record highs in the U.S. Based on data from 2-1-1 helplines across the country, that trend will continue. Typically, very few people call 2-1-1 about unemployment benefits, choosing instead to contact unemployment offices directly. But that has changed with COVID-19. Within 5 days of the pandemic […]

Daily Food Needs, 1st Quarter, 2020

In the three weeks since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, 2-1-1s across the U.S. have received over 50,000 requests for food pantries. During the same period in 2019, food requests totaled 11,561. As the charts below illustrate, this 340% increase was a sudden and dramatic shift from typical demand for food pantries. Our analyses examined […]

Daily Rent Needs, 1st Quarter, 2020

Requests for rent assistance in selected states have jumped by over 25,000 in less than three weeks. We examined day-by-day requests to 2-1-1 helplines for rent assistance in all or parts of 26 states for the first quarter of 2020 (top chart). We compared it to rent assistance requests in the first quarter of 2019 […]

Utility Payment Assistance

Although the number of requests to 2-1-1 helplines for utility payment assistance have increased in most states during the COVID-19 pandemic, the increases are not as large or universal as those for food, rent assistance and other needs. Why? Very early on in the pandemic, some states suspended disconnection of utilities for non-payment. It’s possible […]

Mapping COVID-19 Food Needs in Florida

Food needs in Florida have tripled since COVID-19, and in some counties the number of requests for food assistance is more than 10X higher than the same dates in 2019. Focus-19 tracks daily requests to 211 helplines in Florida and 30+ other states. We examined requests for food pantries and home-delivered meals by county in […]