World Mayor 2023
Mayors fighting
the CoronaVirus

LATEST HEADLINES: Large French cities insist on mask wearing in busy areas
||| Twitter boss donates $3 million to US mayors’ basic income initiative ||| Japan in the middle of a 2nd Covid-19 wave ||| Georgia's Governor and mayors clash over face masks ||| Brazil’s political authorities divided over right approach to COVID-19 ||| Inequality exposes black Americans to greater risk of COVID-19 infection ||| CoronaVirus: How cities from around the world are affected |||

About us

US cities and Covid-19: Seven pages of research & tables

Public health and racism in the US
US mayors caught up in nation's culture war

COVID-19 divides Brazil

COVID-19 hits African Americans hardest

CoronaVirus comparison: Nations and major cities

COVID-19 cases in London and Berlin: A four-week comparison

Mayors fighting Covid-19

The strengths and weaknesses of US cities during a pandemic

Covid-19 EuropeEUROPE / FRANCE
Large French cities insist on
mask wearing in busy areas

Paris, 12 August 2020: Several large French cities have made the wearing for face masks mandatory in tourist and other busy areas such as outdoor markets. In Paris, the affected areas include almost the whole of the centre of the French capital but also other departments in the Greater Paris region (Île de France) such as Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts de-Seine, Val-de-Marne and Val-d'Oise. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the measures were necessary to prevent or at least to flaten a second Covid-19 wave. The restrictions apply to everyone, residents and visitors alike.

In addition Paris and its surrounding departments, the wearing of face masks in outdoor markets and other busy areas as well as popular tourist spots has become compulsory in Lille, Rennes, Nancy, Biarritz, Annecy, Toulouse, Montpellier, Marseille and St Tropez. (See map below)

Non-compliance with the obligation to wear face masks carry an initial penalty of €135 (US$160). Repeat offenders risk fines of up to €3,750 ($4,412), community service orders or even prison sentences.

The number of new Covid-19 cases has been rising in recent days. On Monday (10 August) almost 800 new infections were notified. Last week, France recorded more than 10,000 new cases. The CoronaVirus is spreading particularly among young people and in metropolitan areas like Paris, Marseille and Toulouse. The country’s Conseil Scientifique advised the 20 largest French cities to prepare for rising Covid-19 numbers in the autumn. France’s cities have responded by saying they take the warnings seriously but insisted on local decision making. “Local authorities are best equipped to manage public spaces such as schools, nurseries, museums and transport.”

Covid-19 French cities

Mayors for a guaranteed incomeNORTH AMERICA / USA
Twitter boss donates $3 million to
US mayors’ basic income initiative

3 August 2020: A new network of US mayors, which advocates local cash payments to city residents and a federal guaranteed income, received a major boost when Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey gifted it US$3 million to explore concepts of a universal basic income. Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) was founded a little over a month ago by Stockton, California, Mayor Michael Tubbs, who has been running a guaranteed-income pilot programme in his city since 2019. Last month, the network was joined by some 15 other cities, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, St Paul and Oakland. The latest recruit to the new organisation is Alex Morse, the Mayor of Holyoke (Massachusetts) who said that America was in the middle of the greatest economic and technological transformation in its history. “Yet millions of families continue to be left behind by an antiquated and unjust economic system.”

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey, a friend of former Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang, said in a joint podcast that every single field of America’s economy is going to be touched by automation. “To me a universal basic income represents a floor that people can stand on and have the knowledge and peace of mind that they could survive and eat and feed their children while they are learning how to transition into this new world.” Andrew Yang founded Venture for America, a non-profit organisation designed to foster and promote young entrepreneurs.

In an interview Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs said that the Covid-19 pandemic had shown that mayors are the moral leaders of the country. “They’re on the frontlines dealing with, responding to and working for constituents each and every day. Given Covid-19 and the need for regular ongoing cash assistance, and also the protests on not just police violence but structural violence in the city, I knew it was time to leverage what we’ve learned in Stockton and create a network of mayors and advocate with a collective voice for guaranteed cash payments.”

Guaranteed income task forces have already been established in Newark (New Jersey) and Atlanta (Georgia) while pilots are currently taking place in Stockton and Jackson (Mississippi). At the national level, there is a growing call in the US Congress for ongoing cash payments to support Americans through the Covid-19 pandemic’s public health and economic crises. Current proposals for recurring cash payments include the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act introduced by Senators Kamala Harris, Ed Markey, and Bernie Sanders; and the Emergency Money to the People Act introduced by Representatives Tim Ryan and Ro Khanna.

A Universal Basic Income, or UBI, is not a new idea. In the early 16th century, Thomas More, the Lord High Chancellor of Henry VIII from 1529 to 1532, depicted in his work Utopia a society in which every person received a basic income. More recently, pilot programmes have been carried out in Kenya and Finland. In a 2016 referendum (Volksentscheid), Swiss voters rejected the idea of a basic income for all.

The founding mayors of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income include Michael D. Tubbs from Stockton, CA; Chokwe Antar Lumumba from Jackon, MS; Keisha Lance Bottoms from Atlanta, GA; Steve Benjamin from Columbia, SC; Melvin Carter from St. Paul, MN; Ras J. Baraka from Newark, NJ; Aja Brown from Compton, CA; Eric Garcetti from Los Angeles, CA; Adrian Perkins from Shreveport, LA; Libby Schaaf from Oakland, CA and Victoria Woodards of Tacoma, WA.

Michael Tubbs has been longlisted for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize.

Japan Covid-19 2nd waveASIA / JAPAN
Japan in the middle of a 2nd Covid-19 wave with Tokyo worst affected
23 July 2020:
Japan is currently experiencing a second surge of Covid-19 infections, with more than 600 new cases reported on 18 and 21 July. The country’s first phase of the pandemic took off during the last week of March and reached its peak in mid-April, when more than 740 new infections were confirmed on 11th and 15th of that month. After that, the rate of new infections declined to a low of 14 new cases on 24 May, giving hope that Japanese authorities had brought the pandemic under control. Between 13 May and 29 June the number of new cases never exceeded 100 a day, but the numbers started to rise again early July. Since then, there has been a quite steep rise in new CoronaVirus cases. The seven-day average of 542 daily cases now equals those recorded in the spring.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Japan stands in excess of 27,000, with almost 1,000 related deaths reported since March. Tokyo remains the worst hit prefecture in the country, both in absolute and per-capita terms.

With 722 Covid-19 cases per one million people, some 37 per cent Japan’s to number of Covid-19 cases were reported in Tokyo even though the Japanese capital’s share of the national population is only 8.5 per cent. Osaka, in second place, recorded 302 cases per one million people. The average per-capita rate for the whole of Japan stands at 217.

Only two Japanese cities recorded more than 100 CoronaVirus related deaths – Tokyo with 327 and Hokkaido with 102 deaths. Cities with more than 50 deaths include Kanagawa (98), Osaka (86) and Saitama (70).

Japanese prefectures: Covid-19 cases,
ranked by cases per 1 million people

City / Prefecture
Total no of Covid-19 cases
Cases per 1 million residents

Georgia’s Governor and mayors clash
over mandatory wearing of face masks

17 July 2020: Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms expressed disgust after she learnt that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp had announced that he was suing her for mandating that everybody within the city’s borders must wear face coverings. In a Tweet, the Mayor accused the Governor of putting political considerations above the health of her fellow citizens. Mayor Bottoms reminded Governor Kemp that more than 3,000 Georgians had died due to Covid-19. She added that she herself and members of her family were among the 120,000 people in Georgia who have tested positive for the Virus. Earlier, the Georgia Governor claimed Atlanta’s mask mandate violated his emergency orders. "This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” he said.

Governor Kemp’s lawsuit follows his decision to suspend all local government mask mandates in Georgia. In an executive order he said face coverings were “encouraged” but not required. Mayor Bottoms won the support of other mayors in Georgia. Van Johnson, the Mayor of Savannah wrote it was now official, the Governor does not give a damn about us. "Every man and woman for themselves. Ignore the science and survive the best you can," he added. Since the beginning of July, Savannah residents are required to wear face coverings in public or face a fine. In a TV interview, Mayor Johnson explained that Savannah was hitting new daily records for Covid-19 cases. "It was really necessary for us to take more drastic action to protect our city."

Lynn Deutsch, the Mayor of Dunwoody (GA), said that small businesses had asked the city to require masks because employees were getting worried about being infected. In a strongly worded statement the Mayor said: "You know who is caught in the battle between the Georgia Governor and local governments? Grocery store clerks, retail workers, and restaurant servers. In other words, just the folks who aren't likely to have health insurance and paid time off."

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis told reporters that he was continuing to do what was right for the people of his city. "As I've consistently said, you've got to have the three W's. You've got to wear a mask, you've got to wash your hands and you have to watch your distance."

Meanwhile, the White House defended US President Trump for not wearing a mask during a visit to Atlanta’s international airport, saying he was following guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Atlanta Mayor Bottoms has earlier claimed that the President’s refusal to wear a face covering amounted to a violation of the law in her city.

The latest figures from Georgia confirm 121,000 cases of Covid-19, with 3,043 related deaths. The curve of new cases is still rising.

COVID-19 cases Brazil citiesBrazil’s political authorities divided
over right approach to COVID-19

22 May 2020: A little over month after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro described the CoronaVirus pandemic as a “little flu”, the country recorded more than 310,000 cases of COVID-19 infections and some 20,000 related deaths. Since Brazil carries out fewer tests than many other countries, the true numbers of infections and deaths are thought to be considerably higher. Brazil has now more known CoronaVirus cases than Italy, Spain and the UK and only ranks behind the US and Russia. Hardest hit are the states and cities in the north and northeast of the country as well as big metropolitan areas like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. During the first three weeks of May 2020, the daily numbers of new infections and deaths have been on a steep upward curve.

Political rivalries hinder fight against COVID-19
Brazil’s response to the CoronaVirus pandemic has been dogged by political infighting. Infighting within President Jair Bolsonaro’s own government – two health ministers have resigned in the past six weeks – and rivalry between, city mayors, state governors and the federal President.

Jair Bolsonaro favours a laissez-faire approach to dealing with the epidemic, claiming that a strict lockdown would severely damage the economy. But the majority of state governors and many city mayors have urged their citizens to pay no heed to the President and stay at home.

Faced with overwhelmed hospitals and surging CoronaVirus deaths, Brazilian state and local governments are moving towards mandatory lockdowns against the will of the President, who says job losses are more damaging than COVID-19. On Sunday, 17 May, the Mayor of São Paulo told reporters that the medical infrastructure of Brazil’s largest city was on the verge of collapse. “Public hospitals have reached 90 per cent of capacity and there is a strong likelihood they will run out of space within the next two weeks,” Bruno Covas said.

In Manaus, the capital city of Amazonas, Mayor Arthur Virgilio Neto announced ten days ago that five times as many burials were taking place than normal. Like many other cities, Manaus has set up makeshift field hospitals to care for the ill. Still, many sick people did not dare come to the overcrowded facilities for help. The number of Brazilians dying at home has jumped by 20 per cent since March. In the state of Amazonas that number is more than 2.5 times higher than average.

One of President Bolsonaro's most outspoken opponents has been Joao Doria, the governor of São Paulo state. Although he supported Bolsonaro in the last election, he recently said we have two viruses to combat, the CoronaVirus and the Bolsonaro virus. “This is not the moment for politics, it is the moment to protect people."

As the leader of Brazil's most populous and economically powerful state, Joao Doria is thought of as a challenger to Bolsonaro in the 2022 presidential election, The Governor has taken an entirely different approach to dealing with the virus than has the President. "Doria has introduced strict social-distancing measures, pointing to international practices and scientific advice. He is doing so to distinguish himself from other governors and position himself against Bolsonaro," Guilherme Casaroes a fellow of the Fundacao Getulio Vargas think tank explained.

But despite recognising the severity of the CoronaVirus crisis, few states or cities have introduces mandatory restrictions. Social-distancing rules and curfews have yet to be imposed in São Paulo. Only a few cities, such as Fortaleza in the north-eastern state of Ceara, or the port city of Recife in Pernambuco on the Atlantic coast, have begun implementing such rules. Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella prohibited non-residents from entering 11 neighbourhoods and ordered the closure of all businesses except supermarkets and pharmacies in some of the city’s favelas.

Rio de Janeiro State Governor Wilson Witzel has decreed non-binding quarantine recommendations and commerce restrictions until the end of May. He pledged to make police available so the state’s 92 mayors can enact lockdowns, but stopped short of imposing them himself.

Many scientists believe that the real number of infections is much higher than those given in official statistics. A 40-member team of researchers from the University of São Paulo Medical School say that based on their scientific models the true number of infections could be at least 16 times higher than official figures suggest. According to the model, some 2.1 million Brazilians may have been infected by 9 May, a total higher than that in the US. Brazil’s former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who last month was forced to resign by President Bolsonaro, admitted that the real number of infections was far higher than those published by his own ministry.

On 15 May, Brazil lost its second health minister in a month after President Bolsonaro demanded wider use of unproven anti-malarial drugs to fight the CoronaVirus outbreak. The President had demanded that Minister Nelson Teich issue federal guidelines for the early use of hydroxychloroquine to treat infected patients, despite studies that cast doubt on the effectiveness of the malaria drug for COVID-19 and even raised concerns it may cause heart problems. FULL RESEARCH

African Americans COVID-19Inequality exposes black Americans
to greater risk of COVID-19 infection

12 May 2020: America’s black communities are among the hardest hit by the CoronaVirus pandemic. The numbers are stark. The impact of COVID-19 on African Americans has been extraordinary and disproportionate. Almost one-third of infections nationwide have affected black Americans, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control, though Blacks represent only 13 per cent of the US population. Associated Press adds that nearly one-third of those who have died across the country are black.

Systemic racial inequality continues to exist in the US. The neighbourhoods where most African Americans live, the jobs they have, the prevalence of health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes and the way they are treated by the medical professions have all contributed to the disproportionate numbers of infections and deaths among Blacks.

There is broad agreement among America’s health professionals that poverty, inadequate access to health services, poor housing and residential segregation as well as hazardous working conditions have all contributed towards the higher number of CoronaVirus cases and related fatalities among the country’s black population. Below, City Mayors Research provides an overview of how Blacks continue to be disadvantaged in today’s America and thus be more vulnerable to a pandemic outbreak. FULL RESEARCH REPORT

CoronaVirus: How cities from
around the world are affected

4 May 2020: New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Madrid, but also Dublin, are some of the cities that have become epicentres of COVID-19 infections in their respective countries. In those cities, the number of people infected by the virus is considerably above the national average. The number of recorded cases often accounts for 30, 40 and even 50 per cent of national totals. For example, the population of Dublin and its surrounding county make up 28.6 per cent of Ireland’s total population, but Dublin’s share of the countrywide number CoronaVirus cases is almost 50 per cent.

Across the US, less than 0.36 per cent of all Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, however in New York City almost 2.1 per cent of residents have been infected. In Canada, the difference between the eastern provinces of Ontario and Quebec, with their large metropolitan conurbations, and the rest of the country is even greater. Together, Ontario and Quebec account for more than 80 per cent of all CoronaVirus cases recorded in Canada, while their combined share of the country’s population is around 60 per cent.

In Russia, more than half of the country’s CoronaVirus cases were confirmed in Moscow. While the Russian capital only accounts for 8.3 per cent of the country’s population, its share of virus infections amounts to 51 per cent. Other European cities and regions with a high concentration of COVID-19 cases include Dublin (population share 29%, infections share 49%), Madrid (population 14%, infections 29%), Lombardy with Milan (population 17%, infections 37%), Geneva (population 6%, infections 16%) and Stockholm (population 23%, Infections 37%). In contrast, in cities like Berlin, Hamburg and Rome the number of CoronaVirus cases was low considering their population. London’s share of national COVID-19 cases corresponds almost exactly to its size of population.

Latin America’s largest metropolitan areas, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, have all recorded above average numbers of CoronaVirus cases. More than a quarter of Mexico’s total number of cases have been registered in the country’s capital, while in Brazil, almost one third of the national total of cases has been due to infections in Sao Paulo City and .

In Asia, Jakarta’s 10,800 COVID-19 cases account for more than 40 per of the Indonesian total, while in Japan almost 29 per cent of infections occurred in Tokyo. Some 11 per cent India's CoronaVirus cases are in Delhi. FULL RESEARCH REPORT