COVID-19: Local Government Response and Resource Bank

This is a curated list of city examples, resources, and commentary that may offer helpful insights to local governments.

Content is organized in five sections: *(1) Data Tools & Resources Developed by Cities; *(2) Resources for Local Government; *(3) Local Actions (organized by policy decision); (4) Op-Eds & Commentary Specific to Local Government; and (5) COVID-19 Guidelines & Updates.

The lists are updated regularly. Starred items are new for the week. Starred sections above indicate there is new content in the section. For archived items, click here.

We encourage you to join the conversation and stay updated on how local governments are taking action by following us on Twitter. From our community to yours, be safe and take care.

The following list has been updated as of June 4, 2020.

Data Tools and Resources Developed By Cities

This section lists examples of data dashboards, data collection channels, and other tools that cities have created to help manage, inform, and communicate about their coronavirus responses. If you have a data tool that your city is using that you’d like to share, please email info@whatworkscities.org.

  • Baltimore, MD: COVID-19 city operations data tracking — Provides concrete steps and information about how Baltimore City set up data tracking systems to support the city’s management of service delivery and emergency food access during the city’s coronavirus response. *Plus, Baltimore City’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard. This dashboard and central information page includes total counts of cases and death by demographics and mapped by zip code. Also includes information in other languages, a map of food distribution sites, as well as resources for parents, older adults and caregivers.
  • Boston, MA: The city’s Department of Innovation and Technology’s Citywide Analytics Team developed and launched two dashboards — the first includes a day-by-day breakdown of the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts and tracks daily updates from the state’s public health department for the number of COVID-19 cases, and the second includes information specific to the city, including total daily cases, recovered cases and total cases over time.
  • Cambridge, MA: The city’s COVID-19 Data Center site, developed as a collaboration between data analytics, communications, and subject matter experts, is being used “to keep residents, staff, and decision makers informed about pandemic trends in our city.” Cambridge’s data site includes a user-friendly navigation menu and its data visualizations include how the city compares to state and national trends.
  • Chicago, IL: The “Chi COVID Coach” is a mobile-friendly, web-based health app developed by the City in partnership with Google and MTX. Chicago residents are asked to register their information through the app, even if they do not have symptoms, to allow the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to communicate directly with them and provide them with important information and guidance. Data collected by CDPH through this app will only be used for “public health purposes related to COVID-19.”
  • Cincinnati, OH: The city’s Office of Performance and Data Analytics (OPDA) is “collecting, aggregating, and distilling information daily to [city leaders] to ensure effective tactics and strategies and effective repurposing/deployment of resources.” The reports are posted daily for the public to access, including the COVID-19 Daily Response Report and the Impacted City Services Dashboard, and CincyInsights COVID-19 Case Tracker (by zip code). *New: Food Distribution Information — a data map to help residents find food donation and distribution sites within a mile radius of their residences.
  • Dallas, TX: The city’s Office of Innovation constructed this dashboard “to provide the public with a regional snapshot of COVID-19 cases in the DFW region,” linked from the city’s COVID-19 information page with city-specific data and information. In addition, Mayor Eric Johnson has ordered that local hospitals will be required to provide daily reports of the number of beds, ICU beds and ventilators that are available.
  • Kansas City, MO: Surveying Our New Work From Home Employees — Methodology and the actual questions that DataKC, the city’s central data team, used to conduct a survey of its city employees about working remotely. Includes findings! *NEW: DataKC’s newest blogpost, Moving Forward with Work From Home for City Employees, includes the third survey & its results, and links to the first two surveys. DataKC is surveying its employees bi-weekly in order to add new questions that “dig deeper into the work from home experiences of our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic,” and presenting the results of each survey to the City’s management team for review and discussion.
  • King County, WA: A user-friendly data dashboard that provides the public access to data, analysis, and information in areas such as education, food, health, housing, transportation, and public safety. Additionally, this interactive COVID-19 Vulnerable Communities Data Tool was developed specifically for “communities in King County that may be more impacted by the new coronavirus (COVID-19).”
  • Los Angeles, CA: The Mayor’s Office created this centralized online information portal that provides a dashboard counter of coronavirus cases, city updates & key resources, and a searchable map of critical information and resources by county, as well as a direct link to L.A. County’s Public Health agency’s data tracker by city and community. *Daily data reports produced for the Mayor and his senior staff by the city’s Innovation Team to assist with the city’s COVID-19 response are also publicly available. *Plus, a Work From Home Resources portal for city employees that the city built to allow 12,000 city employees to telecommute. *Also: this site provides well-organized, one-click access to key information portals such as free testing sites, food centers for seniors and students, economic and housing support services in response to COVID-19, and an interactive map of emergency resource centers.
  • State of New Jersey: The State’s Office of Innovation developed the Emergency Assistance Eligibility Wizard “to make it easy” for NJ’s small businesses to understand what financial support programs are available to them, focusing on newly announced State Emergency Assistance programs and the federal SBA disaster loan program. Currently in beta version, the State plans to update the tool regularly “as new federal, state, local, and philanthropic programs become available.” **While not a city-developed resource, we are including this as an example of a data tool cities can develop to assist small businesses in their community. Contact U.S. Digital Response to be matched with expert volunteers who can help accelerate or build tools like this for your city.**
  • New York, NY: New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications launched a website to crowdsource COVID-19 information to get a better picture of where potential COVID-19 patients or people in self-quarantine are. The NYC COVID-19 Engagement Portal collects information directly from residents to help enable the city “to share information with you and members of the public about COVID-19, and to help inform the City’s response to areas affected by COVID-19.”
  • San Francisco, CA: San Francisco’s Department of Health launched a COVID-19 information page that centralizes all relevant COVID content, links to the city’s data tracker, and includes a map of pit stop and hand washing stations in the city. The city’s COVID-19 Data Tracker tracks cases, testing, and hospitalizations, hospital capacity. Cases are reported by zip code and by various demographics, including gender, race/ethnicity, and age group, and response data includes patient counts by bed type.
  • Tempe, AZ: The city set up an Innovation in Advancing Community Health and Fighting COVID-19 site to provide data and insights related stopping the spread of the virus. In particular, the site features a dashboard that provides a look at emerging research using the city’s use of wastewater data “to understand challenges, inform strategies and evaluate outcomes and community impacts.”

Resources for Local Government from the WWC Network & Others

  • *From What Works Cities and the Fines & Fees Justice Center: A two-part webinar for cities and states interested in taking steps to reduce budget dependency on fees and make fines fair and proportionate. Participants will learn about best practice policies and programs, identify a wide range of measures that cities can and should immediately implement in light of COVID-19 and during re-opening processes, and learn directly from experts and leaders in cities. June 3 and June 10 at 3PM ET. Register here.
  • From Opportunity Insights: Track the economic impacts of COVID-19 on people, businesses, and communities across the U.S. in real time through Opportunity Insights’ Economic Tracker. For the latest research from Opportunity Insights, sign up here.
  • From U.S. Digital Response: For local governments in need of added/surge data and digital capacity, tap into a source of 4,000+ qualified, vetted professionals willing to help and skilled in technology, data, design, and operations. Fill out the intake form here to be matched; click here for city project examples shared during the What Works Cities-hosted webinar, and here for a round-up of more city projects.
  • From Bloomberg Philanthropies: Key takeaways and resources (including worksheets) from each video session of the Coronavirus Local Response Initiative. Plus, the Ash Center’s easy-to-digest summaries: Crisis Leadership Essentials, Crisis Communications, Addressing Stress and Mental Health, From Conflict to Collaboration, Leading Through a Multi-Stage Crisis. *For a running list of questions asked by mayors during the sessions and answered by experts, click here.
  • From COVID Exit Strategy: How We Open SafelyAn interactive map with a simple red, yellow, green scale to show key metrics and the progress every state is making towards achieving the federal gating criteria for re-opening. Cities can use to apply their own data to the gating criteria and compare to their state.
  • From Bloomberg Cities: 3 principles for re-opening cities — includes city examples, a sample risk assessment framework, and other relevant links from experts and practitioners that city leaders can use to guide their re-opening decisions.
  • *From Johns Hopkins University: JHU’s Schools of Engineering, Public Health, and Medicine have launched a temperature-tracking study and an app to map and monitor potential COVID-19 cases. The app is available on Apple App Store and on Google Play, and is designed to help reveal important public health trends and potential disease outbreaks.
  • From U.S. Digital Response: An overview on the basics of digital contact tracing, along with technical recommendations for governments considering using the digital contract tracing tools.
  • From the Behavioral Insights Team (BIT): A recording of BIT’s webinar that provides information about the behavioral insights that can be applied to craft more effective COVID-19 communications. These insights were collected through rapid, iterative communications and acceptability testing with over 30,000 participants across the globe.
  • From Bloomberg Cities: Five concrete tips that cities should consider when developing public messaging about COVID-19, based on BIT-supported trials conducted in five American cities.
  • From the CDC: Key concepts regarding contact tracing, with a roundup of relevant contact tracing resources from the CDC, other federal agencies, and other organizations.
  • From the National League of Cities (NLC): From NLC and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ COVID-19 City Fiscal Tracking and Federal Reimbursement Initiative, tactical information about how cities can access COVID-19 FEMA funds, what FEMA funds can be used for, and how to ensure cities maintain federal response and recovery funding.
  • From Bloomberg Associates & U.S. Conference of Mayors: The COVID-19 Municipal Resource Guide includes tactical step-by-step guidance for local governments to access federal relief funds, guidance for establishing controls and proactive monitoring and oversight of funds, and relevant checklists, tools, and templates for cities.
  • From Bloomberg Cities: Three things mayors can do to help build an army of coronavirus ‘contact tracers
  • From Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security & the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI): A COVID-19 Frontline Guide for Decision-Makers, a framework to help local leaders respond to the spread of the virus in their communities. Includes checklists, indicators of progress, and priority actions to take against 7 key objectives that were developed by a team of experienced experts and former public health officials, in consultation with current state and local officials about the key issues they face.
  • From JP Morgan Chase Institute: Insights from five years of big data research on the potential economic impacts of COVID-19 on families, small businesses, and communities.
  • From Local Housing Solutions: Homelessness outreach efforts, eviction moratoriums, and other housing-related advice that localities across the country have utilized to keep their communities safe during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Includes a downloadable document that provides an overview of these strategies and best practices.
  • From the National League of Cities: Five Ways Cities Are Supporting Small Business — with links to city examples for each featured action
  • From Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Guidance on Protecting Incarcerated Individuals, a special report for city leaders (for an easy-to-read summary of the report, see Bloomberg Cities’ post on how to fight COVID-19 jails). Also: This special report for city leaders with seven concrete and actionable recommendations for COVID-19 response in metropolitan areas.
  • From Cities of Service: “It’s not too early for cities to establish local recovery teams tasked with identifying vulnerable populations, creating engagement strategies, and aligning resources.” This post outlines five tips for a successful COVID-19 engagement recovery team.
  • *From City Health Dashboard: 37 measures of health, the factors that shape health, and drivers of health equity to guide local solutions for U.S. cities, now expanded with data from 250 new small cities.
  • From the U.S. Conference of Mayors: What Mayors Need to Know includes operational best practices for mayors, as well as city guidelines and best practices sourced from the network.
  • From What Works Cities: Five actions cities can take to help organize their responses to well-intentioned offers to supply or donate PPE from individuals, community groups, and the private sector.
  • From the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA): GFOA’s Fiscal First Resource Center lists resources and a 12-step process to help local government finance officers facing situations that cause significant financial distress.
  • From The COVID Tracking Project: Collects and publishes the most complete testing data available for US states and territories. Includes links to data visualizations and state testing report cards to provide government leaders with critical data (currently not available elsewhere) about COVID testing by state.
  • From Governing: Social Equity Considerations — a roundup of COVID response elements that have equity implications, and how leaders can make decisions during a city’s COVID response with an equity lens.
  • From Esri: An interactive dashboard searchable by county that mixes real-time coronavirus case counts with local health and population statistics in order to help city and healthcare leaders plan for future impact.
  • From the Open Government Partnership: Emergency Procurement for COVID-19: Buying Fast, Open and Smart gives three recommendations for procurement best practices during crises like COVID-19.
  • From the Fines and Fees Justice Center: Policy recommendations on how to minimize impact on low-income communities and combat fines and fees inequities as cities work to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Also includes a live tracker that follows state, county, and city action regarding fines and fees during this time.
  • From the National Housing Law Project (NHLP): This analysis identifies who is protected and who is left out of the federal moratorium on evictions and foreclosures announced on March 18th by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • From the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO): A regularly updated city action tracker of rapidly-deployed transportation responses related to COVID-19, plus toolbox to help city and transportation agency staff plan responses to the pandemic.
  • From Bloomberg Cities: Advice on five transportation initiatives that city leaders can act on right now, from former New York City transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, and NACTO’s executive director, Corinne Kisner.
  • From UrbanLeap: Virtual communities of CIOs and City Managers to provide a safe space (a closed group for members only) to ask questions and get effective answers quickly. These communities are moderated by subject matter experts and mentors who bring additional insights to the discussions. UrbanLeap is providing this service free of charge to all who are interested.
  • From The New Deal: A live tracker of policy actions taken by government leaders in response to coronavirus. Actions are searchable by policy category and by level of government.

Local Actions

Please note: The below is a representative list of cities that have taken a particular policy action, with links to details. For a more comprehensive list, visit the COVID-19 Local Action Tracker launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the National League of Cities. NOTE: State of Emergency Declarations, Restrictions around Public Gatherings & Schools Closures, Freezing of Utility Shut Offs, Suspension of Other Fees, and Eviction Moratoria sections have been archived.

Leaders across the country are taking measures to “flatten the curve” to reduce the peak number of cases that would put increased pressure on hospitals and public health infrastructure. Image courtesy of the CDC.

Reducing the Jail Population

Housing and/or Homeless Services

Food Support for Individuals and Families In Need

Small Business Support

Relief Funding & Support for Individuals and Families in Need

Expanded Hospital/COVID-19 Facilities

Testing

Economic Recovery & “Re-opening” Preparation

Contact Tracing

Other Innovative Actions

Op-Eds & Commentary Specific to Local Government

COVID-19 Guidelines and Updates

What Works Cities is a national initiative that empowers cities to tackle pressing community challenges and improve residents’ lives through data-driven decision making. Operating as a partnership between five national organizations, What Works Cities works directly with city leaders and staff by providing coaching and technical assistance, a range of online and in-person learning opportunities, and a growing nationwide professional network.

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Helping leading cities across the U.S. use data and evidence to improve results for their residents. Launched by @BloombergDotOrg in April 2015.

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Helping leading cities across the U.S. use data and evidence to improve results for their residents. Launched by @BloombergDotOrg in April 2015.

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