PART 2: Out of the valley

Not all needs increased with COVID-19. In fact, many dropped sharply when the pandemic hit. Seven months later, nearly all of these needs have returned to pre-COVID levels or higher. Data from 2-1-1s across the U.S. show that requests for some types of assistance, such as child care, transportation, and many health care services, declined by half or more in the first weeks of COVID-19 as more Americans were home with their kids, schools and day cares were closed, and people were avoiding public transportation and health care providers. Requests to 2-1-1 for most these services have now climbed all the way back. The charts below illustrate this valley-shaped decline and rebound. We examined 5.6 million requests from 2-1-1s serving 32 states, and found that for some needs such as childcare, job search, dental and eye care, the valley was especially deep and is only now returning to pre-COVID levels (“Full return”; top row in chart). Requests for other needs such as public and medical transportation and substance abuse have not yet returned to pre-COVID levels (“Partial return”; second row from top), while requests for needs like low-cost housing, home-repair, clothing, and medical expense assistance now exceed pre-COVID levels and are still rising (“Excess return”; third row from top). Data include requests received from January 1st to October 19th, 2020, and were obtained from a daily 2-1-1 tracking system. This is the second of a multi-part report on time-series patterns of requests to 2-1-1 during COVID-19. Average daily requests were calculated by averaging current and six prior days. Web requests were excluded from analyses.

*The “Job search” chart excludes requests from MI, and the “Dental care” chart excludes requests from NJ.

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