NLC is committed to providing cities, towns and villages with the tools they need to Respond, Recover and Rebuild, and has released ten new policy briefs meant to provide clear, actionable steps that municipal leaders can take to respond to the impact of COVID-19 in their communities.
As the COVID-19 vaccinations are rolled out across the country, communities of all sizes and in all regions are seeing dangerous surges of the pandemic. Healthcare capacity is overrun in urban and rural areas, compounded by further surges in illness due to holiday travels and the cold winter months. With limited doses initially, it may be mid-summer to fall of 2021 before at least 75% of the U.S. population has the vaccine. Local officials have a vital role to play to protect residents’ health by partnering to increase safe practices, access to health care, attention to mental health concerns, and safe and fun outdoor activities.
Encourage safe practices to control spread and foster a sense of community and mutual responsibility. Until 75% of the U.S. population has the COVID-19 vaccine, the 3 Ws” will allow cities to mitigate illness and deaths through the winter: Wear a face mask outside your home, Watch your distance from people who are not in your household; and Wash your hands often.
Example: See Oklahoma City’s music video: Mask Up OKC! Cities of all sizes have enacted face mask ordinances with FAQs and guidance for businesses:Burleson, TX;Columbia, MO; Charleston, SC;Hays, KS; Kent, OH; Minnetonka, MNandSan Francisco, CA.
Partner with health departments and health care providers to apply data, testing, contact tracing, and vaccine administration to keep people safe and determine levels of openings for business and city operations.
Example: A combination of metrics is essential to ascertain local community spread – see New Orleans Dashboard and District of Columbia Reopening Metrics.
Support mental health for the wellbeing and safety of their residents.
Example: NLC provided a series for local officials to attend to their own self-care as well as that of the city’s workforce and their community.
Expand health care access to treat COVID-19 and other health conditions to the city’s residents through partnering with state and regional lawmakers and communicating through trusted partners.
Example: Expand healthcare workforce availability for out-of-state licensed providers to provide telehealth and/or for licensed providers to practice outside the scope of their license to meet needs in rural areas and other underserved communities.
Connect children and families to nature and outdoors for physical and mental health and access to fun activities, especially with limited indoor options during the pandemic.
Example: Willamalane, OR features Families from Home with nature-based activities and park and trail directory.
For more: see NLC’s COVID-19 Response Principles, and specific brief: Protecting and Promoting Residents’ Health.