PORTLAND, Ore. — The West Coast states of Oregon, Washington and California will decide together when and how to loosen restrictions implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Kate Brown's office announced on Monday.
The announcement comes just hours after President Donald Trump said that it would be the "decision of the President" to open up states again, not the governors of individual states.
....It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2020
"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 coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities," Governors Gavin Newsom, Kate Brown, and Jay Inslee said in a joint statement. "We are announcing that California, Oregon and Washington have agreed to work together on a shared approach for reopening our economies – one that identifies clear indicators for communities to restart public life and business."
The West Coast governors said that all three states have agreed to a few basic principles, though each state would have its own specific plan. In short, the statement said that they would prioritize the health of their own citizens, base decisions on science and "not politics," and would make an effort to work together effectively.
"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," the governors said. "Health outcomes and science — not politics — will guide these decisions."
Each state would need to see a decline in COVID-19's rate of spread before a large-scale reopening, the West Coast leaders said, and the metrics used to guide that decision are still being determined by those three states together.
"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. "Now, our public health leaders will focus on four goals that will be critical for controlling the virus in the future."
Moving forward, the three states' emphasis will be on protecting vulnerable populations (such as nursing homes and other long-term care facilities), ensuring that they have adequate hospital surge capacity and PPE supplies, and developing a robust testing and tracking system for future cases.
"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," the governors said. "In the coming days the governors, their staff and health officials will continue conversations about this regional pact to recovery."