Reports & Toolkits

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): County Response Efforts & Priorities

Tags: Health

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Counties are on the front lines protecting our communities from the coronavirus and other illnesses that have the potential to become a pandemic. Counties support over 900 hospitals and operate over 1,900 public health departments, which are the ground troops in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

Local health departments are working to protect public health by communicating with transportation officials, educating health care providers and communicating to the public best practices to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Local public health systems need sustained, predictable and increased federal funding to support their work.

Analysis of the Third COVID-19 Supplemental: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

NACo's comprehensive analysis highlights relevant components of the CARES Act for county governments, including a section-by-section breakdown outlining items of significance for America's counties, parishes and boroughs.

County Governments and COVID-19: Key Issues and Resources

NACo's legislative brief highlights the county role in COVID-19 pandemic response, mitigation and recovery and outlines key county federal policy priorities.

Counties and COVID-19: Safer at Home Orders

Though reluctant to impose measures that may impact their local economies, counties recognize that safer at home policies and closures of nonessential businesses can help to curb the spread of COVID-19.


NACo is focused disseminating useful information to our members, and facilitating the exchange of effective strategies and approaches. Sign up to recieve the latest coronavirus news and resources.

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The COVID-19 outbreak is demanding swift responses from local leaders. When permitted by state statute, a county may declare a state of emergency to increase flexibility and free up additional resources. This action can decrease government emergency response time and address the health and well-being of residents. Alongside the federal government and states, counties are declaring states of emergency in their jurisdictions to improve their ability to serve residents quickly. Click the map above to access county and state emergency declarations.

What steps have counties taken to address coronavirus?

Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission

This guide is a framework for actions which local and state health departments can recommend in their community to both prepare for and mitigate community transmission of COVID-19 in the United States.


County & State Emergency Declarations

Click here to access an interactive map listing county and state emergency declarations along with the corresponding documents.


  • Bergen County (N.J.) has provided detailed information to its residents on the coronavirus and how to contain its spread. One town within the county (Teaneck) has asked residents to self-quarantine.
  • Jackson County (Mo.) added COVID-19 as a target for its “Disease and Outbreaks” program and is encouraging residents to prepare an emergency kit with an online video and checklist.
  • San Luis Obispo County (Calif.) officials are sharing an updated map on COVID-19 infections. They have also restricted jail visits to medical care and essential personnel only, though they allow virtual visits.
  • Florida Association of Counties: COVID-19 County Response Dashboard
2016 Total Local Health Departments

Counties operate over 1,900 public health departments. Click here to view the map in County Explorer.

Community Mitigation

  • King County (Wash.) is currently limiting all large gatherings of more than 50 people. Many other counties are implementing similar restrictions (though with varying limits for attendees), including: San Diego County (Calif.), Dane County (Wis.), St. Louis County (Mo.), New York City (N.Y.), Santa Clara County (Calif.) and Sangamon County (Ill.).
  • Milwaukee County (Wis.) developed a “Public Health Emergency Supplemental Paid Leave Bank” of 120 hours for full-time employees that cannot perform their job duties remotely, in case they are unable to come in to work due to the virus. All other employees will telework.
  • Arlington County (Va.) suspended nearly all nonessential county services, as did Loudoun County (Va.), while still remaining committed to providing services to vulnerable residents, such as free meals to students and child/adult protective services.
  • Members of the NACo Tech Xchange – county CIOs, IT Directors, CISOs and other IT leadership – discussed technology efforts to support mitigation and response efforts.
2017 Number of Hospitals

Click here to view the map in County Explorer.


  • Eagle County (Colo.) is asking residents to fill out an online form if they believe they are experiencing symptoms, since they do not have the testing capacity. This allows them to track data in real time, and to target their COVID-19 testing.
  • Many counties are starting up drive-thru testing sites to help expedite the COVID-19 testing process, including: Toledo-Lucas County (Ohio), Westchester County (N.Y.)

Jails and Justice

  • Orange County (Calif.) has suspended jail visits and is asking inmates to give attorneys to appear in court without them, among other changes, such as asking residents to stay home when not necessary (without ordering them to do so), moving meetings online, closing schools (while still providing free and reduced meals) and closing traffic and civil courts.
  • Bexar County (Texas) has suspended arrests for minor offenses so as not to crowd the jail system. The county has also declared there will be no juries for 30 days.
  • Alameda County (Calif.) is releasing 300 people from its county jails to reduce the jail population and spread of COVID-19 throughout the jail system. Only keeping violent offenders.
  • Ascension Parish (La.) is taking steps to reduce the jail population. Currently, the DA and judges are working to release some non-violent offenders on a case-by-case basis.
  • Los Angeles County (Calif.) is reducing arrests and releasing inmates early to stem coronavirus outbreak
  • In Cuyahoga County (Ohio), the common pleas court held a special session for hearings aimed at reducing the number of inmates in the County Jail.
2017 Child Food Insecurity Rate

Click here to view the map in County Explorer.


Children and Families

  • Henderson County (N.C.) has made grab-and-go pickup meals will be available at no cost to children ages 2-18 at 12 school sites. Meals On the Bus has also begun delivering meals..

County Employees

  • Dona Ana County (N.M.) has mandated a fourteen day self-quarantine for all employees that travel outside the state of New Mexico. They have also provided more flexibility for employees to telework or stay home if sick or needing to care for children.
  • Hamilton County (Ind.) is giving all employees up to two weeks additional paid leave for COVID impacts, including having symptoms or a positive test, childcare, recent travel to a foreign country, or elevated health risk.

NACo Partner Resources for Counties

County Tech Xchange: COVID-19 Software Guide for Counties

Find COVID-19 free software options and security tools.

Nationwide: Avoiding Headline-Driven Investment Decisions

Esri COVID-19 GIS Hub

Witt O’Brien’s Community Preparedness Resources

Thomson Reuters COVID-19 Response Resources

Broadnet: Virtual Town Halls for COVID-19 Outreach and Education

Comcast: Find Xfinity WiFi Free Hotspots in Your Community

Federal Policy Resources

NACo Letter to Congressional leadership on coronavirus response efforts (March 19)


NACo's Analysis of Federal Legislation on Coronavirus Pandemic

NACo released an analysis of federal proposals and legislation, including The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201).


Federal Legislation

White House and Federal Agency Efforts



During this critical time, NACo is focused on disseminating useful information, facilitating the exchange of effective strategies and highlighting best practices to ensure that we can help counties protect the health of their residents.

Please consider helping us collect this critical information by providing information on your county response strategies through this 5-minute survey.

Additional Resources


About Teryn Zmuda (Full Bio)

Deputy Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Economist

Teryn Zmuda is the Deputy Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Economist for the NACo County Innovations Lab. She leads the effort to promote NACo as a thought leader on top county issues and grounds the Lab’s policy research in high-quality data, while developing applicable research studies and reports.

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  • Deputy Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Economist  
    (202) 661-8821
  • Associate Legislative Director – Health  
    (202) 942-4246

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