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COVID-19 a Top Issue for Missouri City Leaders in D.C.

A Joplin City Council member says it will take the coordination of all levels of government to protect public health. (Melodee Colbert Kean)
A Joplin City Council member says it will take the coordination of all levels of government to protect public health. (Melodee Colbert Kean)
March 13, 2020

JOPLIN, Mo. - Coronavirus fears did not stop some local leaders from Missouri from attending this year's National League of Cities Congressional City Conference in the nation's capital.

The primary focus of the event this week was the creation of the 2020 Cities Agenda, an outline of top priorities for the presidential election.

Joplin council member Melodee Colbert Kean says with COVID-19 also top of mind, Centers for Disease Control experts updated city leaders about the pandemic.

"They've been giving us information that we can take back to our cities to make sure that people aren't put in a panic, that they're getting relevant information and not relying on rumors," says Kean. "Because this is not only affecting health, it's affecting economics in all our communities."

Kean is a past president of the NLC, which she says helps form powerful partnerships between local officials and senators and members of Congress.

This year's 2020 Cities Agenda outlines four top priorities: building sustainable infrastructure, creating a skilled workforce, ending housing instability and homelessness, and reducing gun violence.

Lindsey Constance is a city councilmember from Shawnee, Kansas - which is part of the Kansas City metro area. While COVID-19 is a global issue, she says local leaders are on the front lines.

She says the conference provided an opportunity to learn how other communities are responding.

"It's really been something that's intertwined throughout when we are talking about communities that are more at risk," says Constance. "And challenges with people who perhaps don't have leave from work, maybe inadequate health-care services."

Kean says it will take the coordination of all levels of government to protect public health.

"We have our local health department in touch with our governor, which is also in touch with federal," says Kean. "The CDC has been doing calls to the health department and making sure that they have relevant, up to date information that they're able to relay to the residents."

More than three dozen municipalities in Missouri are members of the NLC.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MO