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Bill Gates Joins Mike Bloomberg to Address More Than 400 City Leaders at Fifth Virtual Convening to Support Local Coronavirus Response

Bill Gates Shared Advice for Mayors on the Importance of Widespread Testing and Reliable Science to Help Guide Local Responses   

 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 – Participants from more than 240 cities around the world, including mayors, local leaders, and members of response teams, joined Bloomberg Philanthropies’ fifth virtual COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convening on April 16, where Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg addressed the mayors on the challenges associated with the pandemic. Joined by moderator Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative; Dr. Howard Koh, Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School; 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. Gates and Mr. Bloomberg highlighted the leading role mayors have in responding to the crisis.

“Mayors are being asked to step up, and it’s very impressive how quickly we’ve changed our lifestyles in cities and had great compliance,” said Bill Gates at the beginning of the convening. “The debate now in most countries will be about how to open up, so that you don’t see any rebounds. That will mean using testing to detect hotspots and change policies as we move forward.”

“This is an unprecedented situation. The scientific community and [the] various companies that are involved with this are really stepping up.  We owe it to the health workers and the people on the front lines to accelerate our deep understandings so that we can get back to normal,” Mr. Gates added.

Over the past month, 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, and President Barack Obama. 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.

“I know people are asking questions of you and you don’t know the answers, but just remember what President Obama said last week. He said: the less embarrassed you are to ask questions, the better your response is going to be. And I think he’s absolutely right,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, three-term mayor of New York City and Founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “A big part of that now is directing questions to your internal teams, but it’s also asking experts in public health. It’s also about talking with fellow mayors and asking them about what they’ve been doing, how they’ve been handling different situations, and what kinds of problems they face.”

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.

Dr. Koh from Harvard stressed the importance of collaborating across sectors to produce the most effective response to COVID-19. “The exceptionally volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment the COVID-19 crisis produces can create tensions that boil over. The most important – and energy-intensive – work mayors can do is turn conflict into collaboration.”

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 or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitter.