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Polco News & Knowledge

COVID-19: Biggest Challenges Facing Cities Around the Nation

- By Julia Steege-Reimann -

The biggest challenge facing local communities during the Coronavirus pandemic is the outbreak’s massive economic impact on the business community and workforce, according to a National League of Cities member survey.

A total of 320 communities representing 45 states responded to the survey, which was hosted on the Polco platform between March 16, 2020 through March 22, 2020.

Community officials completing the survey represented communities ranging from a population size of 62 to a population size of 2.3 million. The median population size of communities represented  was approximately 267,000.

Economic Impact

Of all respondents, 32 percent indicated that the economic impact on businesses and employees would be the biggest challenge to local government. The ratings for economic impact as the biggest challenge exceeded all other challenges respondents voted on by more than 20 percent.

“Getting the economy moving at all with the tremendous uncertainty and lack of leadership from the White House is a huge challenge. As the economy shrinks, local governments have to provide extra services with reduced revenues,” said one respondent who rated economic impact as the biggest challenge.

Shortages of Testing, Supplies, and Healthcare

Shortages of testing, supplies (cleaning and food), and healthcare tied for the second biggest challenges facing communities related to COVID-19. 11 percent of respondents indicated these issues were the biggest challenge.

"There is a shortage of test kits. At this time most of the population will not be able to get tested," said one respondent.

Communication and Staffing

After economic concerns and shortages of medical supplies and healthcare, respondents rated communication with residents and unemployment/staffing levels as the biggest challenge to municipalities related to COVID-19, each nine percent of the vote. 

Eight percent or fewer respondents rated the following categories as the biggest challenge facing communities: vulnerable populations (8%), chaos/fear/panic/actions of residents (8%), fiscal impact (5%), safety/quantity of first responders (5%), community action/containing the spread (4%), other (4%), coordination of governmental agencies (3%), government services (3%), school/childcare closing (3%), not sure/too soon/changing (2%), and lack of medical supplies (1%).

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