Mayors Meet with Key Biden Administration Officials, Speaker Pelosi, Dr. Fauci, and other public and private sector leaders to discuss on COVID-19 recovery, vaccine distribution, reducing gun violence and other pressing priorities
On the second day of the United States Conference of Mayors’ 89th Winter Meeting, hundreds of mayors gathered virtually with key members of the Biden Administration as well House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mayors, public health officials, and business leaders discussed the latest efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Conference’s partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies to facilitate vaccine distribution, strategies and policies to reduce gun violence, ways to support local businesses and the arts, and the need to get people back to work were all among the topics covered as the Winter Meeting rolled on.
The day began with a plenary session where Conference President Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer spoke with Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton and Business Roundtable Chairman Doug McMillon about how the business community is working to help our cities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the role that philanthropy can play in these efforts.
Former New York City Mayor and philanthropist Mike Bloomberg spoke about the important role mayors will play when it comes to helping our nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in coordinating vaccine distribution in their cities. District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser also spoke about her experiences leading our Nation’s capital city during the pandemic, the attack on the Capitol building, and the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi closed the plenary by reaffirming the importance of delivering direct financial aid to cities through President Biden’s COVID relief plan. Cities have been largely left without direct federal assistance since the beginning of the pandemic, despite plummeting revenues and skyrocketing expenses. This lack of support has led to more than a million job losses and the reduction and elimination of critical services.
As Speaker Pelosi emphasized in her remarks, President Biden’s COVID relief package “will provide strong state and direct local government support to ensure that local government can keep workers on the job, keep services running and can equitably and immediately distribute the vaccine.”
Next, mayors held a panel with leaders from Bloomberg Philanthropies and practicing physicians to discuss the latest data available on COVID-19 vaccines and how mayors can use this data to effectively build their vaccine distribution plans.
In “How to Help the Amenities that Make Our Cities Great,” Mayor Hillary Schieve of Reno, Chair of the USCM Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports Committee, moderated an important discussion about how to support the amenities that make living in cities so rewarding. She was joined by numerous mayors including Past President Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer who highlighted important steps mayors can take to help restaurants and bars weather the storm of COVID, support gig artists who may be struggling in communities, and how to prepare for the return of sports and tourism.
Mayors have long been on the frontlines of preventing gun violence in cities across America. During the session on “Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence,” Mayors John Cranley, Lori Lightfoot, Tim Keller, and Jerry Dryer spoke about how they are working to reduce gun violence in their cities and outlined how the ongoing pandemic has complicated their efforts. They were joined by Anthony Smith of Cities United, Rob Wilcox of Everytown for Gun Safety, and USCM advisor and former DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey for the conversation.
Mayors were also grateful to be joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Vivek Murthy – President Biden’s nominee for Surgeon Genera – to discuss the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden Administration’s plans for the coming months, and the critical role mayors will play in the fight against the virus. As Dr. Murthy said, “This pandemic knocked on your doors a year ago and you’ve been dealing with everything that’s come through it ever since.”
To wrap up the day Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, spoke with mayors about their priorities for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, putting people back to work, and creating new employment and training opportunities for a strong economic recovery.
The Winter Meeting will continue with key public officials and business leaders in a series of sessions on Saturday, January 23rd. The 89th Winter Meeting will officially conclude on Tuesday, January 25th with remarks by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.