On Jan. 22 at 10:38 a.m., New York City’s 311 hotline received its first inquiry about the new coronavirus.
There was no dedicated category for Covid-19 yet, so the call was lumped in with “Novel Coronavirus or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome,” according to records published on NYC Open Data. Now there are four Covid categories.
Since that first call, 311 has received more than 100,000 inquiries related to the deadly new coronavirus, with the vast majority coming in after March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the disease a pandemic and the Dow Jones Industrial Average entered a bear market. In the past two weeks, nearly a third of all 311 calls have been about the coronavirus, an analysis by The Real Deal found.
Percentage of 311 calls related to the coronavirus
Total 311 calls and coronavirus-related 311 calls, March 1 to April 12.
On a day-by-day basis, the analysis shows that coronavirus-related calls spiked to over 5,000 on March 16, the day restaurants and bars were limited to takeout, public schools were closed to students and the stock market saw its biggest drop since 1987. Wealthy New Yorkers began planning their exit strategies. Calls slowed for a few days, picked up when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced workplace closures, then eased as the reality of his “New York on Pause” set in.
Another surge in calls began at the end of March as Covid-19 patients began flooding city hospitals for tests and treatment, an indication that the virus had spread rapidly just before social distancing measures were implemented. Since then, the volume of coronavirus calls has stabilized at about 4,000 a day — a bit more on weekdays.
At the same time, the total volume of 311 calls per week has declined because the number of non-coronavirus calls has fallen by more than the number of coronavirus-related inquiries has risen.