WASHINGTON — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said it was "nice to be heard" on Friday after she attended a meeting with a handful of other mayors and governors with President Joe Biden at the White House.
The new president's receptiveness to input over the nation's COVID-19 strategy, Mayor Bottoms said, "was a welcome change from the last administration."
"What was most encouraging was to have voices in the White House who are informed, who had empathy for what we're facing," the mayor said in comments outside the White House afterward. "And President Biden and Vice President Harris have already given so much thought and consideration to our needs, so it was nice to be heard. This is a welcome change from the last administration."
The mayor said she specifically appealed to the president for resources on tracking vaccines as the administration increases the federal government's efforts to distribute more doses. Bottoms said she wanted to see that the vaccine was going to underserved communities.
"I don't know if it's going into our underserved communities or our most affluent communities, so my specific request was that as more allocations are sent to the state and to our community health centers, that there be a stipulation that there be very granular data tracking so that we can know which communities are receiving vaccines and which are not," Bottoms said.
Speaking about the general uptick in crime that mayors in cities across the country have been facing, including in Atlanta, Bottoms said it was doubly important to get the vaccine out so that normal school operations could resume.
"What's most disturbing is that our child abuse cases aren't being reported in the way that they were, because kids are not in school," she said. "So that's one of the things that we know is so important - to get our kids back in school, the need to make sure that our schools are up and running the way they should be. Not just because of the education piece, but for so many kids it's the only place that they receive breakfast, the only place they receive lunch and it's the only place quite often that eyes are on these issues they're facing at home."
Bottoms added that as the vaccine rollout continues, mayors are "dealing with not having vaccines in our communities and needing them quickly" but said "we're all on the same page with that, and I know that the administration has committed to getting them to us as quickly as they can be produced."
The other mayors and governors at the meeting included New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Arlington, Tex. Mayor Jeff Williams.