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Public HealthResponding to COVID-19COVID-19 Local Response Initiative

Helping U.S. Cities & States Mitigate the Devastating Impacts of COVID-19

Bloomberg Philanthropies created a robust platform of programs and resources to help U.S. cities and states manage the ongoing crisis. Our programs provide mayors and other local leaders with timely and accurate public health information, crisis communications and leadership training, supportive peer networks, and other tools to address the wide-ranging consequences of COVID-19.

Working with New York State, Bloomberg Philanthropies committed $10.5 million, organizational support, and technical assistance to help launch and execute New York State’s COVID-19 contact tracing program. As part of this effort, the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University developed a free online contact tracing curriculum and training program. Taking and passing the primary course is a requirement for all contact tracers hired by the state of New York. Funding for this initiative also supports the Contact Tracing Playbook — released by our partner Resolve to Save Lives — which provides cities and states with guidance and strategies to help contain the spread of the virus.


What is contact tracing?

Through the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies facilitated a series of virtual convenings for mayors and other local leaders to help them respond to the pandemic with the most up-to-date public health information and expert coaching on a range of COVID-19-related challenges. These convenings, hosted in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, focused on supporting mayors and city leaders in their efforts to lead equitable social and economic recovery in their communities. The series has welcomed guests such as President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, General Colin Powell, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Governor Larry Hogan, Former Ambassador Susan Rice, and Ford Foundation CEO Darren Walker to share their experience and advice with local leaders.


Reducing Health Disparities During a Pandemic

And, as mayors play a central role in managing the pandemic and recovery, the class of mayors participating in the 2020-2021 Bloomberg Harvard Leadership Initiative focused on developing the management skills and tools to successfully lead their cities through the COVID-19 crisis.

Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, leading a virtual session for mayors in the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Partnership for Healthy Cities initiative also hosted a series of convenings developed specifically for mayors of Latin American and African cities, providing these local leaders with science-based guidance, crisis leadership training, and other resources. The Partnership for Healthy Cities, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vital Strategies, is a global network of nearly 70 cities committed to saving lives by preventing noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, cancer, and injuries.

Finally, we worked with the United States Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of City Transportation Officials to offer local leaders guidance and resources to manage specific issues, including transportation strategies and federal funding and reimbursement. In January 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors to help city leaders navigate the challenges associated with wide-scale distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.