COVID-19: NYC Quote of the Day 2020-04-19

Friday, April 17, 2020, NYC Mayor de Blasio - There are a Lot of Other Things that People Turn to 3-1-1 For - If You Can Go Online or Use the App, That's Ideal

One of the things that I've emphasized, we need enforcement sometimes to make sure that everyone understands. Any problem a group of people gathering on a street or in a park; there's an overcrowded subway train; there's a grocery store or a supermarket that has aligned that's not socially distanced we've seen these problems. Part of why we've seen a fast response by enforcement agencies is that people have been calling 3-1-1, and we need that. That depends, of course, on the 3-1-1 system functioning well.

There are problems that have emerged in the 3-1-1 system and I have been asking my team over the last weeks to do more and more quality control to check, because it seemed quite evident that we were depending on 3-1-1 more and more and we have to make sure it was working for everyone. But there are real questions about whether people can get through. I want to thank one of our journalists on this city who's a veteran journalist done great work for years, Juliet Papa of 1010 WINS, who raised the question to me yesterday at my press conference. I'm praising Juliet, but I want to say to all journalists out there, anytime you raise these concerns, I want to make a point to say thank you. This is the free press at its best, seeing things that need to be addressed, raising them so they can get fixed. So, Juliet, special thanks to you because you did the smart thing and you tested the 3-1-1 system yourself, and you found it was not providing the service that was needed for someone who was hungry that I said has to be the standard. A New Yorker is hungry, they need food, they call. If they're the kind of person who's vulnerable, who can't get out of the house, a senior can't get out of the house, a disabled person, they need a delivery, we need to make that delivery happen quickly, or we need to help get them connected to a local food pantry or soup kitchen who can get them food quickly.

So, as a result of Juliet's call, some important work was done yesterday. Here's the deal, 3-1-1 calls have grown exponentially during this crisis. Before go back to February 3-1-1 got something like 55,000 calls a day. The peak in April was 200,000 calls in a single day. So, to be able to address this level of demand, we're taking some immediate steps literally since yesterday morning. One, more and more we're going to prioritize for 3-1-1 that it'd be about the response to the coronavirus. There are a lot of other things that people turn to 3-1-1 for. We're going to more and more encourage people to go online and get that information, or use the 3-1-1 app. That's where we want to try and get people who have non-COVID-19 concerns more and more. But what we're doing specifically at 3-1-1 for folks who call in and remember, a lot of folks are going to use the phone, the go-to for a lot of people will be the phone, particularly for seniors. We want if you need food, you get an immediate response. Not be put on hold for 10 minutes, you get an immediate response. You get immediate clarity about when food will start to arrive.

So, if you're calling about food, you go to the front of the line. We also want to make sure that things are absolutely crucial, like calling in those social distance violations, those must go to 3-1-1, or, if someone can report it online, that's even better, faster. You can go to nyc.gov. And now, you can send a photo directly. If you see a social distancing violation, take a photo, text it to 3-1-1-6-9-2, or through the 3-1-1 app. All we need is the photo and the specific location. And then to keep 3-1-1 keeping up with this demand, particularly the COVID-related issues, we're going to hire 120 more staff for 3-1-1 immediately. Anyone who's got any concern related to the coronavirus, if you can go online to nyc.gov or use the app, that's ideal. But if you need to call 3-1-1, of course, the priority will be on 3-1-1 for coronavirus calls. The non-COVID, calls, if you do need to call through on one of us, the only way that you can communicate and you have a real concern, even if it's not related to coronavirus, please, whenever possible, try and do that later on the evening or on a weekend when it's a little slower. That would be really helpful if you can do that.
Edited for redundancy, grammar, and emphasis
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