Obama warns group of mayors that the ‘biggest mistake’ is to ‘misinform’ during the pandemic

Former President Obama addressed a group of mayors and other local leaders Thursday, warning that, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the “biggest mistake” leaders can make is “to misinform.”

“Speak the truth. Speak it clearly. Speak it with compassion. Speak it with empathy for what folks are going through. The biggest mistake any [of] us can make in these situations is to misinform, particularly when we’re requiring people to make sacrifices and take actions that might not be their natural inclination,” Obama said during a virtual meeting organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies. 

The meeting included “participants from more than 300 cities around the world, including mayors, local leaders, and members of response teams,” according to a statement from the organization. 

Obama also called on the leaders to build a reliable team of experts while addressing the pandemic.

“The more smart people you have around you, and the less embarrassed you are to ask questions, the better your response is going to be,” Obama said.

The former president said that leaders must “look out for the vulnerable” as the pandemic continues.

“When you start looking at issues of domestic abuse and you start looking at racial disparities that are popping up in your cities, paying attention to that is the kind of leadership I know all of you aspire to. You have to be intentional about it, and dedicate folks to thinking about those issues,” Obama said.

New statistics have shown that black and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also warned that there has been a “global surge” in domestic violence as coronavirus lockdowns continue, saying that the number of women calling support services has doubled in some countries.

The Thursday event marked the fourth meeting organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies to bring together “world leaders to share insights, advice, and inspiration with the local officials on the frontlines of the pandemic.” Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also attended previous events.

Obama on Wednesday warned that although there are some early indications that social distancing is stemming the coronavirus pandemic, lifting these distancing measures ahead of “robust” testing across the country could put people in danger.

“Social distancing bends the curve and relieves some pressure on our heroic medical professionals,” Obama tweeted Wednesday. “But in order to shift off current policies, the key will be a robust system of testing and monitoring – something we have yet to put in place nationwide.”

Tags Barack Obama Bill Clinton Coronavirus

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