Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Potter, Michael R.

Committee Member

French, P. Edward

Committee Member

Abutabenjeh, Sawsan

Committee Member

Cosby, Arthur G.

Committee Member

Stanisevski, Dragan

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Campus Access Only 6 Months

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


In late 2019, scientists discovered a novel strain of coronavirus originating out of Wuhan, China. By January 2020, the United States (U.S.) saw its first positive case of coronavirus and the public was still unsure how serious of an epidemic this would be. By the time the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic a “global pandemic” on March 11, 2020, world leaders, public health experts, scientists, and public administrators kicked into high gear to start serious pandemic response efforts. The public sector is typically the responsible authority for the preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery of such a public health crisis. The purpose of this paper is to build on French’s (2011) study on the characterization of pandemic planning preparedness of the 50 most populous U.S. cities to assess the impacts of a real-time pandemic, COVID-19, upon the public health outcomes of these same cities. While certain public health data (e.g., disease-specific mortality data) are typically indicators of the impacts of diseases, this study acknowledges and cautions that taking these indicators into consideration is not a direct reflection of any one government’s performance in the face of disaster. A plethora of factors (e.g., social, economic, geographic, environmental, biological) and choices at the societal, community, and individual levels can impact the health outcomes of those populations. The COVID-19 mortality data show that many of the U.S. cities with large populations were hit hard and fast during the beginning of the pandemic. It was anticipated that as a city’s preparedness level increased, its COVID-19 mortality rate would decrease. However, results indicated that cities with the highest level of preparedness actually experienced higher COVID-19 death rates than their less prepared counterparts. This analysis aims to shed light on the potential impact that local government management and leadership, especially by way of pandemic planning, has upon a real-time pandemic event and provide information relevant to best practices.