Officials at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) report that the response to their new phone-based service for people with flu symptoms has been "very heavy."
As of 8:00 a.m. today, the new Minnesota FluLine had received over 2,100 calls. The FluLine number was first made available to the public at 11:00 a.m. yesterday.
As a result, some users of the service have been reporting long wait times or busy signals. MDH officials are urging users of the service to be patient, as the agency works to expand the capacity of the system.
"This is the first service of its kind in the country, so we had anticipated the need to make some adjustments when the FluLine number went live," said Craig Acomb, Assistant Commissioner of Health. "What we couldn't have predicted was the magnitude of the response. We are monitoring use of the system very closely, and looking at a number of possible strategies for increasing our capacity."
Acomb said the overwhelming majority of calls to the FluLine number were from people seeking help for flu symptoms.
"The fact we had so many callers seeking help for flu symptoms only underscores the importance of having a service like this," said Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota State Epidemiologist. "Those are the people for whom this service was intended, and we are glad that people got that message.
"We know that some people have experienced some frustration in trying to access the system since we launched the FluLine yesterday," Lynfield said. "We are hoping that people will bear with us as we work to increase capacity. This is an important service, and we want to make it work."
The number for the Minnesota FluLine is 1-866-259-4655.