Mar 10, 2020 - Health

Bloomberg launches coronavirus response network for mayors

Kim Hart, author of Cities

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."

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The big picture: Floyd's fatal run-in with police is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.