The Partnership for Healthy Cities has hosted a number of webinar series for urban leaders throughout the pandemic, offering opportunities for virtual learning and dialogue.

The COVID-19 City Technical Exchange Series continues to bring together small groups of cities in the Partnership to share priorities, strategies, lessons learned and challenges around specific areas of the pandemic response.

Previous webinar series include:

The Bloomberg Philanthropies Partnership for Healthy Cities COVID-19 Global Leadership Series followed two distinct tracks—for city mayors and high-level executives, and for COVID-19 city responders—delving into science updates, in-depth technical guidance and serving as a platform for exchanging experiences.

Leading Through Crisis: Reducing the Impact of COVID-19 in Latin America and Africa was a collaboration between the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and the Partnership for Healthy Cities. City leaders in Latin America and Africa were eligible to participate in this six-part virtual learning series, featuring faculty from Harvard University and other leading experts providing up-to-date health information, science-based guidance and crisis leadership training.

Disclaimer: The science around COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, and the situation reports and science briefs presented in the webinars below are not the most current. Viewers should be sure to consult the weekly science reviews in our Library for the most up-to-date evidence on COVID-19.

November 18, 2021

Equity and Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

The path to widespread vaccination requires detailed coordination, strong data management, wide-ranging logistical support and ongoing community engagement. Cities along this path must also ensure equity, access and protection for all urban residents as part of the vaccination campaign. Sixty-five participants from 12 cities joined the Partnership for Healthy Cities and the Pan American Health Organization for a discussion on protecting and reaching populations in vulnerable situations in the context of COVID-19. Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires shared their experiences on how they improved access to COVID-19 vaccination and social protection benefits for the the transgender community and for unhoused people and people at risk of becoming unhoused.

Questions from participants focused on how to guarantee community participation; how to address additional health challenges such as mental health; and on ongoing efforts to increase equity and access to COVID-19 vaccination in high-risk communities. The session signaled that active network building and communication are necessary for community participation; prioritizing community expertise and providing additional training and support through multidisciplinary teams aid in addressing additional health challenges; and efforts such as community-based research, flexible vaccination schedules and locations, and clear communication on benefits of COVID-19 vaccination all aid in increasing equity and access to the COVID-19 vaccines.


October 14, 2021

Returning to School Amidst Vaccines and Variants: How Can What We’ve Learned Guide Us?

As schools reopen or consider reopening in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments, including public health and education officials, must make evidence-based decisions to keep students and staff safe. 138 participants from 18 cities joined the Partnership for Healthy Cities and Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, for a discussion on the opening of primary and secondary schools for classroom teaching amid vaccines and variants and how they apply to the reality of Latin America.

Questions from participants focused on criteria for reopening schools; strategies to mitigate virus transmission; especially in low-resource environments; how to promote vaccine confidence among young people; how to support rural or indigenous populations; and how to act on lessons learned. The session signaled that a return to school is part of learning to live with the virus, returning in a safe way to in-person teaching is a priority, and vaccination of all eligible adults and youth is the most powerful tool to reduce community transmission, and consequently, reducing interruptions to in-person teaching.


August 19, 2021

Ensuring Healthy Eating in Schools in the Pandemic Era // Asegurando alimentación saludable en la escuela en contexto de la pandemia

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the education of millions of children and young people. For many, that has also translated into interrupted access to healthy and safe food—a basic right of all. According to UNICEF, more than 39 million school meals have been lost since the pandemic began. These circumstances are provoking cities across the globe to consider strategies that support healthy eating in a challenging context. As we continue to adapt to living with COVID-19, there are many successful practices and experiences to pull from. Reviewing the response of urban leaders in the Partnership for Healthy Cities network and beyond, what tools can be adapted elsewhere? What role do national, state and municipal legislators play in ensuring that our region's children and youth grow up healthy and ready to learn?

In this webinar organized by CLAS Healthy Latin America Coalition, The Union and the Partnership for Healthy Cities, city leaders, legislators and civil society representatives from 64 cities convened with public health experts and leaders to discuss best practices, experiences and tools to ensure healthy eating in schools in the pandemic era.

Note: recording is in Spanish.



La pandemia de COVID-19 ha trastornado la educación escolar de millones de niños y jóvenes. Para muchos, ha interrumpido no solo su educación pero también la posibilidad de una alimentación sana y segura, un derecho básico de todos. De acuerdo con UNICEF, se han perdido más de 39 millones de comidas escolares desde que comenzó la pandemia. Estas circunstancias están provocando que las ciudades de todo el mundo consideren estrategias que apoyen una alimentación saludable en un contexto tan desafiante. Mientras nos seguimos adaptando a vivir con la COVID 19, se registran buenas prácticas y experiencias exitosas. Al revisar la respuesta de los líderes urbanos en la red de la Alianza de Ciudades Saludables y más allá, ¿qué herramientas se pueden adaptar en otros lugares? ¿Qué papel juegan legisladores nacionales, estatales, y municipales para asegurar que los niños y jóvenes de nuestra región crezcan saludables y estén prontos para aprender?

En este webinar co-organizado por CLAS Coalición América Saludable, La Unión y la Alianza de Ciudades Saludables, líderes, legisladores y representantes de sociedad civil de 64 ciudades se reunieron con expertos y líderes en salud pública para discutir las mejores prácticas, experiencias y herramientas para garantizar una alimentación saludable en las escuelas en contexto de la pandemia.


March 15, 2021

COVID-19 PHC City Technical Exchange Series: Latin America & the Caribbean

Latin American cities in the Partnership for Healthy Cities global network are sharing urban COVID-19 strategies with each other in a series of three technical exchanges that started February 25 with a look at vaccination distribution in the region. The 11 cities joining the session also heard from PAHO immunization expert Dr. Cuauhtémoc Ruiz, who touted the region’s vaccination successes of the past and emphasized the importance of planning.

In the second session on March 11, 12 cities traded lessons learned about the best ways to collect and use data to get infection rates down, such as building public-facing dashboards that both guide decision-making and keep residents informed.

The series ended on March 25 with 12 cities joining a discussion about how to maintain public adherence to public health and social measures. Features speakers included Montevideo Intendent Carolina Cosse.

Technical Exchange: Vaccination and Testing (February 25, 2021)

Technical Exchange: Surveillance Systems and Data Analysis for Decision-making (March 11, 2021)

Technical Exchange: Adherence to Public Health and Social Measures (March 25, 2021)

December 15, 2020

Technical Webinar: Cities and COVID-19: Keeping Public Transit Safe

COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of daily life, and transportation is no exception, especially in cities that rely on mass transit. Urban mass transit systems facilitate the efficient movement of large numbers of people through limited street space, unlocking affordable access to livelihoods, schools, health services, food and recreation, and fueling the physical, social and economic health of people and communities. The pandemic has nevertheless prompted a rapid movement away from the use of mass transit worldwide, where physical distancing can be especially challenging to practice. Despite concerns, recent research and evidence from cities offers no clear evidence that mass transit is a major driver of COVID-19 infections.

Taking a public health approach to ensure safe and resilient mobility systems during the COVID-19 era, transit leaders from Mexico City, Istanbul, Accra, and ten other cities in the Partnership convened with mobility and public health experts to discuss: health intelligence related to transit ridership and infection rates, maintaining essential transportation services for urban residents and new ways of communicating with both riders and operators.


October 29, 2020

Technical Exchange: Creating Effective COVID-19 Messages to Reach People at High-Risk

Representatives from six cities across Europe and the Americas—Athens, Birmingham, Helsinki, Philadelphia, Sao Paulo and Vancouver—convened for a session in the COVID-19 PHC City Technical Exchange Series on targeted communications for vulnerable, higher risk residents. Participants shared experiences, strategies and good practices for delivering public health messaging with communities whose needs go beyond typical outreach efforts, whether because of language barrier, disability or because of challenging circumstances like homelessness or substance abuse.


October 2, 2020

Technical Exchange: Evolving Risk Communication Materials throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 PHC City Technical Exchange Series continued the conversation about risk communication with ten African cities. Participants shared strategies and lessons learned around shifting their communication strategies as the pandemic risk evolves, as well as campaign tactics to encourage adherence to public health and social measures (PHSMs). Particularly in high-risk areas such as public transit and markets, the city COVID-19 responders agreed that campaigns can play a critical role in maintaining services while keeping virus transmission low.


September 28, 2020

Technical Exchange: Risk Communication Campaigns in the Americas during the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 responders from eight cities in the Americas—Cali, Guadalajara, León, Lima, Philadelphia, Quito, Santiago and Santo Domingo—convened for an important session of the PHC City Technical Exchange Series, to discuss strategies for effective communications campaigns during the pandemic. Participants took a critical look at the full lifecycle of a campaign, from planning and design, through to implementation and evaluation. A number of campaign strategies have proven successful in the region, including: engaging community influencers, graphic billboards and family-focused messaging.


  • Presentation slides available here
August 11, 2020

Technical Exchange: Challenges and Opportunities for Tobacco Control Enforcement in the Context of COVID-19

In the third session of the COVID-19 PHC City Technical Exchange Series, four Asian cities in the Partnership network discussed Challenges and Opportunities for Tobacco Control Policy and Enforcement in the Context of COVID-19. The cities shared strategies, lessons learned, challenges and opportunities for adapting tobacco control work to the special context posed by the pandemic.


July 17, 2020

Technical Exchange: Strengthening Cities’ Surveillance Systems and Data Use for Real Time Decision-Making in Africa

In this second session of the COVID-19 PHC City Technical Exchange Series, five African cities shared strategies, lessons learned and challenges for urban COVID-19 surveillance systems. The exchange placed a special focus on the use of data to inform local decision-making, including data needed to clearly assess and communicate changing levels of risk, and to drive recommendations for adjusting public health and social measures. The experience using syndromic and mortality surveillance to establish epidemic alert levels in Goiania, Brazil was shared; the subsequent peer-to-peer discussion surfaced the creative ways in which cities across the continent are using data to address their unique challenges with COVID-19. Overall, epidemic response leads in Accra, Harare, Kampala, Kumasi, and Freetown agreed that enhanced surveillance systems are helping urban leaders in Africa save lives.


July 9, 2020

Technical Exchange: Challenges and Opportunities to Improve Urban Mobility in Latin America and the Caribbean

In this first session of the COVID-19 PHC City Technical Exchange Series, five Latin American cities shared strategies for modified mobility strategies. Discussions focused on rapid scaling up of bike lanes and bike use as an alternative and multimodal form of transportation, and to safely meet growing demand during the pandemic. The session was co-hosted by World Resources Institute.


May 14, 2020

Protecting Vulnerable Populations

This week’s webinar convened 60 technical leads and other colleagues from 28 cities to discuss protections for vulnerable populations throughout all stages of the pandemic. Technical experts guided cities’ public health teams on enhancing public health services for migrant, homeless, incarcerated and other particularly susceptible populations, with a spotlight on London, United Kingdom.


May 12, 2020

Approaches to Easing Social Measures

Executives and representatives from 23 cities worldwide joined a virtual convening to discuss safely loosening physical distancing measures, and the array of indicators and considerations which would inform a city’s strategy. The session also provided a venue for an exchange of COVID-19 experiences and strategies. Mayors Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, USA and Rosy Senanayake of Colombo, Sri Lanka shared updates from their cities, the need to support vulnerable populations through deep community engagement, and the benefits of coordinating local and national response where possible.


  • Presentation slides available here
May 7, 2020

Safely Easing Social Measures

Public health and social measures (PHSMs) that promote physical distancing have proven to be our most effective tool yet against COVID-19. They nevertheless carry a high social and economic burden. This week’s webinar convened 67 technical leads and other colleagues from 26 cities to discuss the conditions required to safely ease PHSMs in cities.Resources:

May 5, 2020

Ethical and Legal Considerations for a City Response

Executives and representatives from 26 cities worldwide joined a virtual convening to discuss a human rights approach to enacting and enforcing public health and safety measures (PHSMs). The session also provided a venue for an exchange of COVID-19 experiences and strategies. Mayors Josefina Belmonte of Quezon City, Philippines and Soham El Wardini of Dakar, Senegal shared updates from their cities and the need for an evolving legal response throughout the pandemic.


  • Presentation slides available here
April 30, 2020

Ethical and Legal Considerations for a City Response

This week’s webinar convened 121 technical leads and other colleagues from 57 cities to discuss the challenges of and tools for implementing public health and social measures during the COVID-19, and the importance of an agile legal system that can quickly respond to changing circumstances. A spotlight on Lagos, Nigeria provided further insight about how these principles can be applied in practice.


April 28, 2020

Approaches to Communication During a Crisis

Executives and representatives from 20 cities worldwide joined a virtual convening to discuss the pillars of a successful crisis response and to review risk communications principles and tools. The session also provided a venue for an exchange of COVID-19 experiences and strategies. Mayors Mohammed Adjei Sowah of Accra, Ghana and Jan Vappavuori of Helsinki, Finland shared updates from their cities and the power of open communication during this public health emergency.


  • Presentation slides available here
April 23, 2020

Community Engagement During a Crisis

This week’s webinar convened 122 technical leads from 24 cities to review key risk communications techniques and discuss community engagement around COVID-19. City spotlights from technical leads in Amman, Jordan and Montevideo, Uruguay showcased these principles in action.


April 21, 2020

Mayors Respond to COVID-19

Executives and representatives from 24 cities worldwide joined the inaugural Bloomberg Philanthropies Partnership for Healthy Cities COVID-19 webinar series. The virtual convening provided city leaders with guidance on how to implement best-practice interventions such as physical distancing measures, in ways that are appropriate to each locations, effective in gaining acceptance from the community and which minimize social and economic impacts.

The session also provided a venue for an exchange of COVID-19 experiences and strategies among city leaders. Participants heard the experience of Freetown, Sierra Leone—a city whose executive leadership acted quickly to address the COVID-19 threat.


April 17, 2020

Adaptive Response Framework: Introducing Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) / Public Health and Social Measures (PHSMs)

This week’s webinar convened 192 technical leads from 31 cities to discuss the COVID-19 Adaptive Response framework, or guidance for deciding when and how to implement public health social measures (PHSMs) such as physical distancing on the city level.


April 8, 2020

Introducción a la Respuesta al COVID-19 de la Alianza de Ciudades Saludables (Español)

Con el COVID-19 extendiéndose rápidamente por todo el mundo, las ciudades se encuentran al frente de la respuesta a esta crisis de salud pública sin precedentes. La Alianza de Ciudades Saludables se afianza en las relaciones ya existentes con los líderes de las ciudades para dar apoyo a su respuesta al COVID-19 con estrategias basadas en evidencia.

Más de 44 líderes y personal técnico de 13 ciudades se unieron al seminario web inaugural sobre la Respuesta al COVID-19 por parte de la Alianza, para revisar los elementos fundamentales de la preparación y respuesta ante epidemias, recibir un informe científico sobre el COVID-19 y aprender sobre la asistencia técnica disponible para las ciudades de la Alianza.


  • Puede encontrar una copia de las diapositivas aquí
March 31, 2020

Introduction to the Partnership for Healthy Cities COVID-19 Response (English)

With COVID-19 spreading rapidly around the globe, cities are at the forefront of the response to this unprecedented public health crisis. The Partnership for Healthy Cities (PHC) is building on existing relationships with city leaders to support their COVID-19 response with evidence-based strategies.

More than 65 leaders and technical staff from 31 cities joined the inaugural PHC COVID-19 Response Webinar to review the fundamentals of epidemic preparedness and response, receive a COVID science briefing, and find out about the technical assistance available to cities in the Partnership.