By: John Clymer
Today’s USA Today cover story makes clear why the National Forum’s work with mayors to improve health in their communities is so important. People trust mayors more (74%) than governors (68%) or President Trump (44%) for information about the spread of coronavirus, according to a Harris Poll-Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University survey. This high level of trust enables mayors to raise awareness that taking steps to prevent or control heart disease, heart failure, hypertension and diabetes can lower one’s risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
The article quotes several mayors who use the National Forum’s Move with the Mayor™ initiative to promote physical activity and make their cities more walkable. They include Rochester Hills, MI Mayor Bryan Barnett, Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley, and Columbia, SC Mayor Steve Benjamin. All are leaders of the United States Conference of Mayors, serving as President, 2nd Vice President, and Immediate Past President, respectively.
Now they are helping people protect themselves from the urgent threat of COVID-19 and the enduring threat of cardiovascular disease.
Mayor Benjamin called me last Friday to say he wants to use policy and infrastructure to enable Columbia residents to improve their cardiovascular health and reduce their risk for severe COVID-19 illness. He recently took to the radio airwaves to urge people to get their blood pressure measured and get treatment to control it, if needed. Mayor Benjamin interviewed Black News Channel personality and stroke survivor, and National Forum Board member Mark McEwen on Columbia’s Jammin’ Hits WDEK 97.9 FM and 1170 AM. They delivered key Million Hearts® messages, sharing how they personally control their blood pressure, a major risk factor for stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, severe COVID-19 illness, and more.
During a recent meeting with the National Forum, Mayor Whaley committed to become a Mayoral Champion for CDC’s Active People, Healthy Nation initiative to help 28 million Americans become more active by 2028. Mayor Whaley will use an upcoming Facebook Live program with Michael Dohn, Medical Director for Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County. She is examining policy and program options suggested by the National Forum.
When Mayor Barnett welcomed U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams to a recent virtual meeting with mayors across the country, the mayor referred to Dr. Adams’ participation in a Move with the Mayor™ walk during a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting. Mayor Barnett has led students in Rochester Hills in Move with the Mayor™ walks to instill heart-healthy habits at a young age.
The National Forum thanks these mayors and others across the U.S. for their leadership in advancing cardiovascular health.