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Central Texas counties set up coronavirus hotlines to help answer non-emergency questions

If you have a question about the coronavirus or the rules your county has in place, there are a couple numbers you can call.

AUSTIN, Texas — Travis, Bastrop, Hays and Williamson counties all have coronavirus (COVID-19) hotlines available Monday through Friday. The person on the other end of the line wants to help answer residents' questions about the COVID-19 outbreak.

Here are the numbers:

"I can tell you a lot of folks that have called me personally through the call center are just happy to be able to talk to somebody," said Shanna O'Brien, the Hays County code compliance manager. "We’re doing a service to the community by providing a call center for them and someone they can talk to."

Phone calls are flooding the hotlines and the questions vary from person to person. O'Brien said they'll always give you the best advice they can.

"One of the top questions is, 'Where I can get tested?' And so, we've been giving them the guidance to go to Baylor Scott & White and CommUnityCare in Austin," O'Brien said. "We want to make sure that we’re educating our citizens the best that we can. We want to make sure the message is consistent."


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O'Brien said they've gotten several hundred calls since they opened up phone lines and she said it's going really well.

"A lot of the questions about testing sites and testing centers. If the county has testing sites currently – and we don’t right now, but we’re guiding them in the right direction," O'Brien said.

Some people have also asked O'Brien, what if they've been exposed to COVID-19? What should they do?

"We’re just giving the advice. Number one, contact your primary care physician. If they feel like they’ve been exposed, whether they’re symptomatic or not, we’re telling folks to take precautions and to self-quarantine for 14 days," O'Brien said. 

In Bastrop County, they're getting 30 to 40 calls every day. 

"We want to make sure that the individuals that live within our county – because a lot of them do go to other areas to go to work – know what is expected of them inside of their home county," said Sheila Lowe, Bastrop County's long-term recovery team executive director. "There were a lot of questions regarding clarifications. 'What can people do? What places can we go to? Who’s open? Can I still work?'"

Bastrop residents also ask the county what to do if they're traveling from Bastrop to Travis County. As of Monday, Bastrop County does not have a stay-at-home order, but Travis County issued an order on Tuesday. 

"There are no travel restrictions but we do advise people because Travis County does have a stay-at-home mandate that wherever they’re planning to visit, that they call ahead to make sure that that business is still operational," Lowe said.

Your wait time shouldn't take longer than 15 seconds when you're calling Bastrop County's COVID-19 hotline and they want to make sure they can clarify any confusion. 

"There is no stupid question. That's what we're here for because our county governments wanted to make sure the citizens of Bastrop County have all the information that they need to have for our county," Lowe said.

The hotlines are meant for non-emergency questions. If you do have an emergency, operators are asking you to call 911. 

WATCH: Coronavirus: Q&A with an Austin emergency room doctor


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