The St. Louis City Health Department said that the COVID-19 hotline is being “spoofed” by messages from callers imitating health department staff in order to spread misinformation.
In a statement released July 25, a department spokesperson said city residents have contacted them saying they were left voice messages to call the hotline. The health department said it will return voicemail messages, but does not “randomly call residents asking them to contact the department,” adding some of the calls were made after the hotline closed for the day.
Health department acting director Dr. Fredrick Echols said the calls from hotline impersonators could create additional anxiety for callers seeking COVID-19 resources.
“At a time when the public needs accurate information about COVID-19, it is disheartening that someone would imitate the Department of Health,” says Echols. “We want the public to feel empowered to connect with our staff and not experience fear or anxiety from these random calls.”
The city’s COVID-19 hotline is 314-657-1499 and is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Missouri state COVID-19 information line is 877-435-8411.