Western States Forge Pact to Manage Restart of Economy

April 14, 2020 by Dan McCue
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee addresses the press during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to discuss concerns over the coronavirus, COVID-19, on March 5, 2020 at Camp Murray adjacent to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. On Wednesday Inslee is expected to restrict gatherings of more than 250 people in several counties. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images/TNS)

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington announced Monday that they’ve come to an agreement on a shared vision for reopening their economies and controlling COVID-19 in the future.

In a joint statement, Govs. Gavin Newsom, Kate Brown and Jay Inslee, said the coronavirus outbreak had “preyed upon” the interconnectedness of the region.

“In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 — with our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities,” they said.

As they move forward in reopening their economies, the governors agreed to work jointly, based on “clear indicators” for communities to restart public life and business.

While each state is building a state-specific plan, they will jointly follow these principles:

  • Their residents’ health comes first. As home to one in six Americans and gateway to the rest of the world, the West Coast has an outsized stake in controlling and ultimately defeating COVID-19.
  • Health outcomes and science — not politics — will guide these decisions. Modifications to stay at home orders must be made based on an understanding of the total health impacts of COVID-19, including the health care systems’ ability to ensure care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions.
  • Each state will work with its local leaders and communities within its borders to understand what’s happening on the ground and adhere to the agreed upon approach.

“Through quick and decisive action, each of our states has made significant progress in flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19 among the broader public,” the governors said.

Going forward, they said their staffs and public health officials will focus on four goals that will be critical for controlling the virus in the future:

  • Protecting vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease if infected. This includes a concerted effort to prevent and fight outbreaks in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
  • Ensuring an ability to care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This will require adequate hospital surge capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment.
  • Mitigating the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities.
  • Protecting the general public by ensuring any successful lifting of interventions includes the development of a system for testing, tracking and isolating. The states will work together to share best practices.

“COVID-19 doesn’t follow state or national boundaries. It will take every level of government, working together, and a full picture of what’s happening on the ground to carry out this regional pact to recovery,” the governors said.

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