On Two-Year Milestone of Pandemic, New NLC Data Shows Cities, Towns and Villages Are Leading Robust Recovery

Updated COVID-19 Local Action Tracker data reveals innovative ways local governments have taken action with pandemic relief funds to support their residents

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the National League of Cities (NLC) released an update to its COVID-19 Local Action Tracker, which catalogues actions cities, towns and villages across the country have taken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years. The updated data reflects nearly 5,000 actions taken in 800 cities, finding that local governments have overwhelmingly used their pandemic relief funds to:  

  • Invest in public health initiatives to prevent the spread of COVID-19, from offering incentive programs for residents to get vaccinated to funding emergency response needs such as ambulances and mobile health clinics.  
  • Stabilize their budgets. Municipalities hired additional employees to better provide services to their residents, protected the salaries of municipal workers and offered hazard/premium pay to those frontline workers who were required to take on extra responsibilities resulting from the pandemic.  
  • Invest in improvements to failing infrastructure to meet changing needs and ensure safe, healthy communities for the future. As community members spent more time at home and in their immediate neighborhoods, the inadequacy of necessary infrastructure became increasingly apparent. For the past two years, cities have been using their funds to support improvements from parks to sewer systems, and broadband networks to transit systems.  
  • Keep their residents housed during this extended period of uncertainty. Housing insecurity dropped dramatically in cities across the U.S. after the passage of the CARES Act, when local governments started using their funds to support affordable housing programs and provide services for their homeless populations.  
  • Inclusively support local entrepreneurs and bolster their local economies. Applications for new businesses skyrocketed after the implementation of the CARES Act, as local governments used their funds to help local businesses reopen and recover their losses.  

The COVID-19 Local Action Tracker, produced in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, adds to critical efforts to understand how funds such as the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) have been allocated both to address the public health crisis immediately and implement long-term projects in communities. Comprised of case studies submitted directly by local leaders and information from city websites, the Local Action Tracker is the most complete collection of documented municipal responses to COVID-19.  

“Cities are leading the way on finding innovative and equitable ways to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “Many of the recovery programs, policies and solutions that our cities, towns and villages are putting in place today will improve communities and the lives of residents in the future.”

Over the last two years, cities, towns and villages across the country have endured countless challenges as local economies suffered and new COVID-19 variants emerged. The COVID-19 Local Action Tracker provides critical insight into how municipalities across the country have led over the course of the pandemic to support their residents’ health and well-being and adapt to their changing needs. To view the Tracker and download the new underlying data, click here.  

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The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.