West Coast states form recovery pact
Three Western states accounting for one-sixth of U.S. population to team up in reopening economies and controlling COVID-19
Last updated 4/14/2020 at 1:20pm
OLYMPIA -- Washington, Oregon and California governors announced they have agreed on a shared vision to reopen their states economies and provide unified efforts to control COVID-19 in the future. The pact is based around dealing with the severe acute respiratory disease sweeping the nation and the world that is built on three principles: Health of residents, using science and data instead of politics to drive decisions and being more effective through a unified approach.
"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," governors Jay Inslee, Gavin Newsom (California) and Kate Brown (Oregon) wrote in an April 13 joint statement.
The statement noted all three states have made significant progress in "flattening the curve" on the spread of the disease. According to Department of Health statistics, as of April 12, Washington had 10,411 confirmed cases with 508 deaths and 87,856 tests being conducted, making for an 8.5 percent positive test rating.
Oregon has 1,584 confirmed cases with 58 deaths, according to the Oregon Health Authority website. California has recorded 22,348 confirmed cases resulting in 687 deaths, according to the state's Department of Public Health website.
The governors stated that health officials will focus on four goals to control the virus in the future: protecting vulnerable populations at risk if infected, especially at nursing homes and long-term care facilities along with ensuring care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions through making sure hospitals have adequate surge capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment. Mitigating the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities, is a third focus with protecting the general public by ensuring any successful lifting of interventions includes the development of a system for testing, tracking and isolating the fourth and final goal.
"The states will work together to share best practices," the statement read.
While encouraged by the governors' approach to restarting their states economies, Patrick Connor, Washington state director of the National Federation of Small Business, said the governors needed to present a plan to "responsibly and safely" put people back to work and help businesses get back on their feet sooner rather than later.
"This is especially true in areas that were economically distressed before the pandemic began, whose recovery is further threatened by prolonged business closures due to government edict," Connor said in an April 13 statement. "It's time to focus on keeping at-risk individuals at home to avoid illness, while allowing small businesses, working families and our states' economies to rebound quickly by getting back to work."
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.