Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Local leaders have seized the reins during the novel coronavirus outbreak, amid frustrations that the federal government's efforts have fallen short.

The big picture: Governors and mayors have been the ones dictating the pace of the response — closing schools, banning large gatherings and updating their residents. But cities also say they need more money from the federal government, and more help understanding how they're allowed to use the money they have.

Driving the news: The U.S. Conference of Mayors on Wednesday requested $250 billion in flexible, emergency assistance to cities.

  • Congress provided $950 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support state and local public health authorities, half of which was supposed to be delivered to the states within 30 days.
  • President Trump also invoked the Stafford Act to make more money available to state and local governments.

But it's unclear how that money is being dispersed to localities.

  • Counties, which operate 1,900 public health departments, don't have enough guidance on what expenses are eligible, said Matthew Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties.
  • "We need clarity on what the rules of the road are," Chase said, such as whether first responders will be eligible for hazard pay.
  • King County, in Washington state, for example — the site of a large concentration of coronavirus cases — is anticipating nearly $100 million in extra costs without knowing whether they'll receive federal reimbursements.
"It's safe to say we are in very uncharted territory but we are improvising and working together to get through this. Now more than ever we need a strong federal, state and local partnership to address this crisis."
— Mary Ann Borgeson, commissioner of Douglas County in Nebraska

Between the lines: Americans are putting a lot of faith in their local governments during this outbreak, according to the debut installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, out Wednesday.

  • The CDC is the most trusted institution for accurate information about the virus, at 84%.
  • 70% trust state government, 67% trust their local government.
  • Meanwhile, just 53% trust the federal government.
  • Many mayors and local public health officials are holding daily, live-streamed briefings to share updates about confirmed cases, school and business closures and other mitigation efforts.

What to watch: Local leaders are also trying to make sure Washington, D.C. understands the full extent of their public health and economic challenges as Americans' anxieties rise.

  • "We have to take that angst and turn it into organizing," said Ithaca, N.Y., Mayor Svante Myrick. "Decisions are being made right now in D.C. and unless we tell them what we need, They're going to make the decisions for us."

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U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez announced Monday that he would sign an emergency order to again close many businesses, including indoor dining at restaurants, party venues, gyms and fitness centers, effective Wednesday.

The big picture: The move comes as cases are surging in Florida, even as the state sees an increasing gap between testing and confirmed cases.

Cities put major construction projects on hold as coronavirus budget crunch looms

Construction workers wearing masks work on a road in New York City in May. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Major infrastructure projects have been put on ice, economic development programs are getting the ax, and workers are losing their jobs.

Why it matters: These are the realities for localities dealing with multimillion-dollar budget holes while also continuing to pour money into COVID-19 response as cases spike.

Updated Jun 25, 2020 - Health

Texas pauses its reopening as coronavirus cases surge

Customers sit outside on the patio at Eight Row Flint in Houston on May 22. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Texas is pausing its phased economic reopening in an effort to battle the state's surging coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Thursday.

The state of play: Abbott said the move "will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase," but allowed businesses — including restaurants and bars — already open under the state's guidelines to remain in operation.