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  • (Photo Credit: Mike Groll - Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Governor Announces Northeast States to Work Together to Study How to Restart the Economy

By John Jordan

On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a glimmer of hope to the business community and non-essential workers that have been sidelined since the March 22 mandatory isolation.

In Albany, the governor announced a regional initiative with six other Northeast states to begin to study how and in what fashion they could re-start their respective economies in a collaborative fashion.

In addition, the governor said the state has likely reached or is approaching the worst of the COVID-19 epidemic thanks to the stay-at-home measures that were put in place to prevent the spread of the pandemic. 

“I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart,” the governor told reporters. “And I believe we can now start on the path to normalcy, and we can have a plan where you start to see some businesses reopening, understanding the delicate balance.”

Also, on April 13, the governors of seven Northeastern states and another three governors of Western states announced they would work cooperatively to study how and when they would restart their economies.

The Northeast COVID-19 initiative was announced at a press conference in Albany led by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Other participants included New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. Shortly after the teleconference, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker reported Massachusetts would join the now seven-state coalition as well.

The governors stressed that the council, which will be comprised of one health expert, one economic development expert and the respective Chief of Staff from each state, will work together to develop a fully integrated regional framework to gradually lift the states’ stay at home orders while minimizing the risk of increased spread of the virus. 

The council will create the framework using every tool available to accomplish the goal of easing social isolation without triggering renewed spread. Those tools will include testing, contact tracing, treatment and social distancing and will rely on the best available scientific, statistical, social and economic information to manage and evaluate those tools.

All stressed that while they want to restart their economies sooner rather than later, health care considerations would drive how and when their economies would re-emerge from shutdown. While there was no set timeline on when the council would issue its recommendations, Gov. Cuomo said he would like to see a report from the council as soon as possible.

Gov. Cuomo said, “This is not a light switch that we can just flick on and everything goes back to normal—we have to come up with a smart, consistent strategy to restart the systems we shut down and get people back to work, and to the extent possible we want to do that through a regional approach because we are a regional economy.” 

The governor added that the council would start discussions on April 14th and will develop a framework based on science and data to gradually ease the stay at home restrictions and get our economy back up and running.

Gov. Cuomo acknowledged President Trump’s contention that the federal government has the authority to re-open, but said that he wants the President to clarify his plan to determine if the plan is Constitutional. 

New Jersey Gov. Murphy said, “The only path to a sustainable economic recovery is through a strong healthcare recovery. Then, and only then, do we position ourselves to fully ignite our economy and get the residents of our state back to work while minimizing the danger of this disease.”

He added, “A coordinated, regional approach, informed by a multi-state council of experts, will help us avoid a major setback with potentially disastrous consequences.”

In addition, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced an agreement on April 13th on a shared vision for reopening their economies and controlling COVID-19 into the future.  They have agreed to work together using health outcomes and science to guide their decisions to re-start their economies.