Coronavirus on City Officials' Conference Agenda

Mar 10, 2020

Coronavirus is on the agenda at this week's National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C.
Credit National League of Cities

City leaders from around the country are discussing issues from public safety to homelessness at a national conference for local officials in Washington, D.C. this week. But the coronavirus has taken its place at the top of their agenda.

Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Linda Thompson says this is her second National League of Cities convention. It’s a little different than the first.

“We are at a ‘no handshake’ conference, which is hard because so many of us know each other and you just want to quickly come in and grab a hand and a big hug," Thompson said.

Instead, delegates were handed bottles of hand sanitizer as they checked in.

“We’re being careful to remind each other to elbow bump or greet each other with a smile," she said.

Mayors and council members are sharing what their cities are doing in response to the coronavirus situation. They’ve debated the question: To quarantine or not to quarantine? They’ve heard presentations from leaders of the Centers for Disease Control and from a man who used to be one of their own.

“Michael Bloomberg was a surprise speaker today," Thompson said. "He was talking about a project that his foundation is going to work on in support of health officials and mayors across the country to support methods and ways to prevent and reduce the impact of the virus.”

Delegates are working on a slate of issues they hope presidential candidates will address in this year’s campaign. Those include building sustainable infrastructure, building a skilled workforce, ending housing instability and homelessness and reducing gun violence.