NEW YORK, NY – More than 600 participants including mayors, local leaders, and members of city response teams from cities across the United States joined Bloomberg Philanthropies’ third virtual COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convening on April 2, where President George W. Bush and Michael Bloomberg addressed the mayors about the challenges associated with the pandemic. Joined by Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, the Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement for the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Mr. Bloomberg and President Bush highlighted the leading role that mayors have in responding to the crisis.
President George W. Bush told mayors that in historic times like this, it is important for mayors to keep three things top of mind: Truth, empathy, and especially hope. “When we all look back at this moment in American history, I do believe the mayors, who are on the front lines, are going to be instrumental in helping us recover,” President Bush said. “As the person who people listen to on a daily basis, hope matters. One way to promote hope is to talk about the acts of kindness that are taking place in your cities. All those actions really do speak to the greatness of America.”
Throughout the convening, mayors and other local leaders learned the latest facts from public health experts, and discussed best practices of crisis communications and ways different city leaders are helping their communities through this challenging time.
“We are right in the middle of the most crucial period of the spread of the virus – and preventing some of the worst-case scenario projections is something that we just have to focus on,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Bloomberg Philanthropies Founder and three-term mayor of New York City. “Life as we know it across America and around the world has essentially changed overnight. That means that we’ve all had to change the way we live, the way we work, the way we govern, and we have to make hard decisions in order to keep people in our cities safe and healthy.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative in March to help cities combat the devastating impact of coronavirus on the wellbeing of residents and local economies. Working with public health experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as well as additional researchers and clinicians from across Johns Hopkins University, the network is providing mayors with the most up-to-date information on the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and helping them understand how to act on it quickly, efficiently, and reliably for the benefit of their citizens.
With testing a top priority in cities across the country, Dr. Josh Sharftsein provided insight into the role testing plays in disease control.
“Testing is just the beginning,” Dr. Sharfstein said. “Testing should set in motion a series of steps that lead to controlling the disease. What we need to do is not just know that someone has an infection, but also stop that infection from going to somebody else. That’s the purpose of isolation of people with symptoms and then tracing and quarantining their contacts.”
The COVID-19 pandemic represents the nation’s first 50 state disaster that will spare no community. Bloomberg Philanthropies is tapping into a wide range of partners to generate a robust set of support and resources to help local leaders combat the coronavirus and protect the social and economic wellbeing of cities.
Since launching, hundreds of city leaders have joined the virtual convening each week. The aim of the program is to provide cities with the tools to understand, respond and manage a dynamic public health crisis, they will be better prepared to slow the spread of coronavirus in the United States and protect their residents.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in more than 570 cities and over 160 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3.3 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
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