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911 System Down? After a widespread disruption, authorities are asking people to avoid test calls

The system that carries 911 emergency calls suffered a temporary outage on Monday night. Calls in Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Arizona and Delaware were influenced by the Minneapolis police who said the loss of service in the United States affected the entire country.

“WARNING: Emergency lines are not operational nationwide,” tweeted the Minneapolis Police Department. “This is for phone calls and text messages.”

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The outage lasted less than an hour.

“Our policy is not to delete tweets, but we have withdrawn the tweet about the arrest of the emergency services,” tweeted the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department in Minnesota. “It has been restored and we don’t want people to falsely think it is still idle. Please don’t call 911 to test the system, as it could interfere with real emergency calls coming in.”

The cause of the interruption was not immediately clear. Newsweek contacted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for comment.

Police departments in several states reported an outage on Monday that prevented users from making calls to the 911 emergency system.
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On Monday night, Microsoft reported an outage of its 365 Cloud services, which impacted users’ access to various services provided by the tech company. No connection has been established between the interruption of Microsoft and the loss of the emergency service.

In the past there have been outages of the emergency service. In 2018, an outage at telecommunications company CenturyLink prevented approximately 22 million people in 39 states from calling 911 for more than 24 hours. At the time, FCC President Ajit Pai said the disruption was completely unacceptable.

“When an emergency occurs, it is imperative that Americans are able to use the emergency health services to reach those they can help,” Pai wrote in a statement. “The discontinuation of the CenturyLink service is therefore completely unacceptable and its breadth and duration are of particular concern.”

According to an FCC report, at least 886 calls were not delivered to 911 during the outage.

On Monday, health care provider Universal Health Services reported that its computer system had been compromised by an information technology problem and was offline. Universal Health Services operates more than 400 facilities in the United States, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

“We implement extensive IT security protocols and work diligently with our IT security partners to restore IT operations as quickly as possible,” reads a statement on the Universal Health Services website. “Patient care continues to be delivered safely and effectively.”

According to the statement, no personal data of company employees or patients appears to have been “accessed, copied or misused”.

Other companies that reported internet outages on Monday according to monitoring site Downdetector included Zoom, Costco, Credit One Bank, and Southern California Edison.

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