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Michael Bloomberg. Photo:Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, through his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced on Tuesday an online network of mayors and public health experts to help communities deal with the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Local officials are on the front lines of handling the economic, health and social fallout of the spread of COVID-19 virus.

What they're saying: "There's an enormous gap between what the federal government is providing and the local governments need," Bloomberg said at the National League of Cities Conference on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

  • "The failure to prepare and to speak honestly and forthrightly to the public has economic consequences. If the market continues to slide, local governments are going to see the economic fallout in their main street shops and social services caseloads."
  • Bloomberg said the goal is to help local leaders achieve three things: 1) Decrease the spread of the disease; 2) Help those who contract it to recover; and 3) Protect the economic well-being of communities.

How it works: The virtual network is forming in collaboration with Johns Hopkins and Harvard public health experts.

  • The network is open to all U.S. mayors. Mayors who are already dealing with with ramifications of the coronavirus in their cities, such as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, will share their insights and lessons learned.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies will identify and document the needs of cities experiencing the outbreak and share with other local officials.
  • The program is designed to supplement, not replace, information coming from the federal government, Bloomberg said. "It will help provide guidance on managing medical facilities, handling quarantines, supporting people who are ill who have to stay home because their workplaces or schools are closed."

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

IOC: Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe"

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus in 2019. Photo: Ivan Romano/Getty Images

Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who sought refuge in Tokyo, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

The latest: Officials in Poland and the Czech Republic have offered to help the 24-year-old sprinter, who refused national team orders to board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's Haneda airport Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Team Italy crosses the finish line ahead of American Fred Kerley in the men's 100m final on day nine of the Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

🚨: IOC "looking into" American Raven Saunders' Olympic podium gesture

🏃🏾: Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs: Reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win" Olympic 100m sprint race.

🥇High jumpers persuade Olympic officials to let them share gold

🏌️‍♂️: Golfer Xander Schauffele wins gold for U.S. by one shot

🤸🏿‍♀️: Simone Biles won't compete in Olympic floor finals, individual vault or uneven bars

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletes — Trans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

IOC "looking into" American Raven Saunders' Olympic podium gesture

Team USA's Raven Saunders gestures on the podium with her silver medal after competing in the women's shot put event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee is "looking into" U.S. shot-putter Raven Saunders' gesture on the Tokyo Games podium after she won a silver medal, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told reporters Monday.

Why it matters: Saunders told AP she placed her hands above her head in an "X" formation while on the podium to stand up for "oppressed" people. The IOC has banned protests during the Tokyo Games.