NEW YORK — More than 500 mayors, local leaders, and members of city response teams from cities across the United States joined Bloomberg Philanthropies’ second virtual COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convening on March 26, 2020, where President Bill Clinton 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, and Dr. Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives and former director of the Center for Disease Control, Mr. Bloomberg and President Clinton highlighted the leading role that mayors have in responding to the crisis.
“We can argue until the cows come home about what should’ve been done starting in January, but we can do that later,” said President Bill Clinton. “Now we have to focus on where we are and where we want to go. And you, as mayors, more than anybody else, can influence people to avoid getting or transmitting COVID-19.”
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 can meet this challenge, we can emerge from it stronger, but I think it’s fair to say it’s only if we come together and focus on finding and implementing proven solutions. And for that to happen we need strong leadership at the local level,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Bloomberg Philanthropies Founder and three-term mayor of New York City. “In the end, it’s the mayors that will really make the difference.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative earlier this month 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.
“For mayors, the implication of what is happening in New York is that this is not just an Italian phenomenon, a Spanish phenomenon, it’s an U.S. phenomenon”, said Dr. Sharfstein. “Every city is at risk for serious coronavirus outbreaks, and strong control measures remain urgently needed now. Instead of chasing after unproven therapies or demanding access to unproven therapies, we should be demanding good data, good studies, so that we know what works and what does not work.”
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.
Last week, Bloomberg addressed more than 400 city leaders during the first virtual convening of the program, which also featured experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. 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.