As a way to help those affected by the coronavirus outbreaks and resulting business closures, officials in the Nashville area are working with the United Way to establish a relief fund.

The COVID-19 Response Fund was announced March 17 and will be used to address health and economic concerns, according to a news release. Money will be sent directly to community-based organizations, with initial allocations being focused on those who are experiencing lost wages or who have become ill.

“We are deeply grateful to United Way and to our corporate and philanthropic partners for stepping up yet again to assist our neighbors who are hurting from the ripple effects of the current public health emergency,” Mayor John Cooper stated. “We urge everyone to assist each other while remaining vigilant to the limitations imposed by social distancing. One easy way to help those directly affected by the economic restrictions caused by the coronavirus is to provide monetary support to the COVID-19 Response Fund. For Nashville to rebound as quickly as possible, we need to be sure that all our local employees, particularly those in our entertainment and hospitality industry, have our support. This Fund has been created to help with that effort.”

The response fund will launch with $1 million in funding, with half coming from the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

“I want to thank the mayor for taking the lead on setting up this fund. Beyond everyone’s health, there is not a more pressing need in our community,” Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., said in a statement. “It was an easy decision to step up and support efforts to bring relief to those who make our hospitality industry ‘work’ and the many others in need.”

The fund will be chaired by former Sen. Bill Frist, and an advisory committee, made up of local health care, technology, entertainment and government representatives, will work with Cooper and the United Way to make funding decisions.

“This is new territory for the greater Nashville region and for the country,” said Brian Hassett, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Nashville, in a release. “People are really going to be struggling to make ends meet and we want to do everything we can to show them that we are here to help. This is an opportunity for our community to come together and demonstrate that we believe in supporting each other in times of need. Nashville did just that in the days following the tornadoes and we can do it again as we face this new crisis.”

Money from the response fund is expected to be released on a rolling basis to get money to organizations quickly, according to the release.

Residents can learn more about the fund and make donations here.