You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Washington, Oregon, California governors create 'Western States Pact' to coordinate reopening

Seattle Post-Intelligencer logo Seattle Post-Intelligencer 4/14/2020 By Joel Connelly, SeattlePI

For more coverage, visit our complete coronavirus section here.

Three West Coast and five Eastern Seaboard governors said on Monday they will coordinate plans for post-pandemic economic reopening, relying on medical experts and putting the safety of the public, and its most vulnerable, first.

The governors, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, acted hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that it is entirely his call on whether to ease restrictions put in place to curb spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"COVID-19 has preyed upon our interconnectedness: In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 with our states acting in close, coordinated collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities," Inslee tweeted.

The East Coast saw a similar pledge of coordination by the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Rhode Island, all Democrats. They set no target date for reopening. A public health official, and an economic expert from each state will work with the governors' chiefs of staff to create reopening plans.

"Yes, we've never been here before, but that doesn't mean you an't assure the public's confidence you're doing everything you can, to do it in a smart, informed way," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a governors' joint telephone news conference."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he has been talking "for about a week" with Inslee, and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. Oregon's Brown said: "There's no roadmap to address this unprecedented crisis. But there's power in working together with out neighbors on the West Coast as we plan to reopen our economies -- and it's smart to coordinate our metrics, best practices and processes. The disease knows no borders."

The West Coast (nicknamed "Left Coast" by Wall Street Journal editorialists) governors have won national accolades for early, quick action to shut down their states. They have seen a far lower death rate from COVID-19 than New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, even though the first death from the coronavirus was in Washington. A piece Friday in Politico depicted mayors from around the country listening to advice from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Newsom took pains to stress that the Golden State is big dog on the "Left Coast", a "nation state" well positioned to take on Trump.

"It's a state that's larger than 21-plus states combined, the world's fifth largest economy, most diverse state and democracy," he told a news conference.

Trump blamed the "Fake News Media" for suggesting that "it is the governors' decision to open up the states" adding: "Let it be fully understood that is incorrect. It is the decision of the President, for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors and this will continue."

But, as Cuomo asked on national TV, is it the President who decides whether and when states' schools will reopen, or when state parks will again receive visitors.

The public has rallied to its governors. Nationally, according to a recent poll, their handing of the coronavirus has averaged 72 percent approval. Cuomo, Inslee, Newsom, and two proactive Republican governors -- Mike DeWine of Ohio and Larry Hogan of Maryland -- have scored even higher.

Newsom cleared the beaches in California while Spring Break Break crowds jammed Florida beaches. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has still refused to close beaches in his state.

Inslee has criticized the Trump administration, particularly for slow production of ventilators and the president's definition of the federal government playing a "backup" role in the struggle against the corona virus.

"The West Coast is ahead of the curve on Covid-19: We're going to make sure that stays true," he tweeted on Monday. Washington, Oregon and California will work together on a shared approach for recovery of our economies."

Washington, Oregon and California will develop "state-specific" plans for reopening, but the states will work to coordinate. Added Inslee: "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 us."

MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

AdChoices
AdChoices

MORE FROM Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon