Weekly Convening for Mayors and City Leaders is Part of Ongoing Collaboration Between Bloomberg Philanthropies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative
NEW YORK, NY – More than 300 participants from 200 cities around the world, including mayors, local leaders, and members of response teams, joined Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 10th virtual COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convening yesterday where Dr. Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Michael Bloomberg addressed some of the challenges associated with the pandemic and the path forward to reopening cities.
Joined by moderator Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director, Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative; Professor Rebecca Henderson, the John and Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard Business School; Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Dr. Fauci and Mr. Bloomberg highlighted the critical ongoing role mayors have in leading the response to the crisis.
“As you begin to open your cities, there will be blips of infection that you did not see before. It is almost unreasonable to think that this is not going to happen,” said Dr. Fauci at the beginning of the convening. “You need to not be discouraged by it, but importantly, you need to have a testing program in place: tests available, the manpower to perform testing and to do the kinds of identification, isolation, and contact tracing that would prevent that blip from becoming a resurgence. Because the danger of that happening is real.”
“The federal government should provide guidance and backup assistance to enable your cities to remain economically viable, until we can get rid of this scourge. But the success of how we respond as a nation to this outbreak is in your hands: the mayors, the city officials, and the community leaders,” Dr. Fauci continued. “It really is going to be up to you to show the kind of leadership that I’m seeing as I talk to mayors and governors throughout the country. My experience is that when you leave it up to the local officials, particularly mayors and governors who have the responsibility for leading, things get done, and they are done well.”
For more than two months, Bloomberg Philanthropies has brought together world leaders to share insights, advice, and inspiration with the local officials on the frontlines of the pandemic. Previous convenings featured President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Chef José Andrés and Vice President Joe Biden. President Clinton highlighted the important role mayors play in sharing accurate, actionable information with residents. President Bush told mayors that in historic times like this, it is important to keep three things top of mind: Truth, empathy, and especially hope. President Obama reinforced the importance of speaking clearly, and with compassion, to avoid misinformation in the current environment, when so many are making sacrifices.
“The key to getting through this crisis as safely as possible is listening to experts and making decisions based on science,” said Michael Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP, three-term mayor of New York City. “Unfortunately, there have been many times over the last three months when reliable information has been hard to come by, or even worse it has been colored by politics. And I know that has made your jobs even harder. We’re helping to fill some of those data and information gaps with these virtual sessions – and each week the public health experts are joining us to give it to you straight, without any politics.”
Bloomberg also stressed the importance of not rushing to reopen communities. “We have more than 100 mayors on the call from across the country… Of course, one of the biggest issues facing local leaders is when and how to begin re-opening – including in situations where a governor may be moving too quickly.”
Professor Jorrit de Jong from Harvard stressed that while mayors face so many uncertainties, they can rely on crisis leadership and management tools to help them lead their cities through the pandemic. “Mayors are asking themselves: what does the post-COVID-19 world look like, in my city and around the world? There are no clear cut, reliable answers yet, but we provide resources and tools to help them develop a common vision, manage their teams, communicate effectively, and lead in the midst of volatility.”
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 the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the network provides mayors with the most up-to-date information on the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and crisis management support from experts from Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and other schools across Harvard to help them act quickly, efficiently, and reliably for the benefit of their citizens. Learn more about Bloomberg Philanthropies’ additional COVID-19 Response Initiatives here.
The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, which provides leadership and management training to mayors worldwide, designs each session to provide mayors and other local leaders with the latest facts from public health experts and crisis leadership essentials, from communicating during a crisis to building resiliency and working across sectors.
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.