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 |||
ON OTHER PAGES
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
EUROPE / FRANCE
NORTH AMERICA / USA
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.
SOUTH AMERICA / Brazil
Brazil’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
NORTH AMERICA / USA
Inequality 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