To answer citizen questions about COVID-19, including changes to city services and available resources, the city of Independence started offering a phone bank Thursday.

The phone bank opened at noon Thursday and will continue 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Volunteers staffing the phone bank are with the Medical Reserve Corps, and they work six at a time in the training room of Independence’s emergency operations center, which is adjacent to fire station No. 1 at U.S. 24 and Spring Street.

“We’ve seen a variety of barriers for different areas of population to get information, including people who don’t have access to the internet or social media,” city spokesperson Meg Lewis said. “Providing this platform, this is a way to work with them.”

In addition to questions about myriad changes to city services and facility openings, as well as available resources in the city, phone bank volunteers will also be able to answer questions regarding resources from the Independence, Fort Osage, Blue Springs and Raytown school districts. Lewis said the city is working to help volunteers answer questions about city services in Blue Springs and Raytown.

Volunteers can provide basic overviews of COVID-related questions, including symptoms, but are not able to give direct medical advice.

“It’s something we’ve never tried before, and we’re learning as we go,” Lewis said. “We’ve found that some people just need a human voice to talk to through during this time.”