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Wayne County launches hotline for resources during coronavirus closures

Many county residents who don't have internet access can call and speak with a person to get necessary information

HONESDALE, Pa. — Wayne County leaders are trying to keep up with the coronavirus and are trying to make sure residents are informed.

There are many resources to be found online. The county's website has current information on offices, closures, and how to get help, but not everyone has online access.

"We are all in this together, but we are not in this equally and Wayne County does have some challenges with broadband service that our neighboring counties don't have the same challenges, so that's a real issue for us," said Wayne County Commissioner Jocelyn Cramer.

The Wayne Tomorrow! action committee suggested expanding their current helpline to those without reliable internet service in the county to be able to access the web-based information. So, they set up a local hotline to connect those without internet to food assistance, county social services, unemployment, business resources, and more.

"We're even able to provide information about other human service agencies that are not part of the county network but that we're able to refer people to if they're not needing our services in particular, but needing other types of services," said Mary Urisch from the Wayne County Area Agency on Aging.

The people who call into the resource hotline can talk to a real person. Some of those people are librarians in the county's library system.

"The stories are just gut-wrenching and they're just so happy to have somebody to talk to, to help get that information to them. Everything from, 'Where do I get a mask?' to, 'I don't know how to access unemployment, I've never done this before and I don't have a way to do this online, can you help me?'" said Tracy Schwarz, the Wayne County Public Library director.

Librarians will man the phone lines from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is 1-866-253-5986. After 4:30 p.m., you can dial 211 to speak with personnel from the United Way with questions.