OTTUMWA — The United Way of Wapello County believes there will be a strong need for aid in the coming weeks for organizations that usually help others. It’s tapping the group’s emergency fund, and is asking for donations.

“It’s something that our board approved yesterday,” said Executive Director Ali Wilson. “We’ve already had a couple partners reach out and say they needed some additional support.”

Wilson said the United Way maintains a disaster fund with money set aside for unusual circumstances. During Monday’s board meeting, the members decided the current COVID-19 outbreak qualifies.

With schools closed for several weeks and businesses now being told to shut their doors, people are being hit hard. Wilson said in many cases those are people whose earnings did not provide much of a safety net.

“Right now we’re focused on basic needs,” Wilson said.

The United Way used some of the emergency reserves as seed money for the new fund. The public is being asked to donate as well. Instructions for how to donate are found on the organization’s website and Facebook page.

People can also text “giveuwwc” to 44-321. That, Wilson said, will send people to a page on which they can enter a donation amount and how to pay for the donation.

Iowa had 124 cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon, including one in Wapello County.

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