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The West Coast Makes a Pact to Reopen Their States

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) and Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) on Monday came to an agreement to reopen their states' economies after being shut down due to the Wuhan coronavirus. Although each state is looking at their own individual situations and what's taking place in their jurisdiction, the governors are working together to follow a set of established principles.


The three plan to modify their stay-at-home orders based on the total health impacts of the virus, including:

  • The direct impact of the disease on our communities.
  • The health impact of measures introduced to control the spread in communities —particularly felt by those already experiencing social disadvantage prior to COVID-19.
  • Our health care systems’ ability to ensure care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This effort will be guided by data. We need to see a decline in the rate of spread of the virus before large-scale reopening, and we will be working in coordination to identify the best metrics to guide this.

While each of the three states have worked to flatten the Wuhan coronavirus curve in their state, health officials are now focusing on four goals for the future:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Mitigating the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities.
  4. 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.

All three governors made it clear they don't have a set timeline for reopening. They're basing their decisions on science and what's happening in their individual state.

Newsom, Brown and Inslee have all said they're trying to find a balance between protecting their citizens and reopening their economy.

"There is no light switch here, it's more like a dimmer. I know you want the timeline, but we can't get ahead of ourselves and dream of regretting. Let's not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early, as much as we want to," Newsom told CNN. "I don't want to make a political decision that puts people's lives at risk and puts the economy at even more risk by extending the period of time before we can ultimately transition and get people moving again."  


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