PEABODY — North Shore residents with questions about COVID-19 now have their own place to call.

North Shore Community Action Programs announced that it has established a virtual call center to answer questions and offer up-to-date local information on the coronavirus pandemic.

The service, called the Health Line, is available starting Friday for residents of Beverly, Salem, Peabody and Danvers. A separate telephone number has been set up for each community.

Laura MacNeil, NSCAP's executive director, said the phone lines will be answered by trained volunteers from the North Shore Medical Reserve Corps, a state-funded coalition that responds to emergencies.

MacNeil said the idea of a health line came about after discussions with Peabody Health Director Sharon Cameron, who said local health departments have been inundated with phone calls about COVID-19. Cameron then contacted the North Shore Medical Reserve Corps.

"It's really been a great partnership," MacNeil said.

MacNeil said the Health Line is similar to the state's 211 hotline in that it will offer up-to-date information on COVID-19, but differs in that callers can get more "region-specific" information, including on local business closures, local resources, and community directives.

NSCAP, which is based in Peabody, provides social services for more than 10,000 low-income families and individuals per year.

The Health Line phone numbers by community are as follows:

-- Beverly Health Line: 978-548-5784

-- Danvers Health Line: 978-548-5798

-- Peabody Health Line: 978-548-5795

-- Salem Health Line: 978-548-5796

Anyone wishing to donate to NSCAP to help fund initiatives like the Health Line can go to nscap.org/donate.

The Medical Reserve Corps is also looking for volunteers. Anyone interested can go to www.maresponds.org.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

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