Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday presented what he called “a smart way” and “an informed way, guided by experts and data, and science, and not in a political way,” to reopen business across New York and its neighbor states.
“Each state is going to name a public health official for that state, an economic development official for that state,” he said. “Those officials, and the chief of staff of the governor of each state, will then form a working group that will start work immediately on designing a reopening plan – taking into consideration the public health concerns and issues, and the economic reactivation issues and concerns. Study the data; study the research; study the experience of other countries; and give us guidelines and parameters to go forward.
“Again, we anticipate different facts, different circumstances, for different states, different parts of states. But let's be smart. And let's be cooperative, and let's learn from one another.”
Cuomo was joined at an afternoon press conference by his counterparts: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Delaware Gov. John Carney and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo. Each dialed in via conference call.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker later joined the multistate council to restore the economy and get people back to work.
Cuomo said economic decisions would have to be in lockstep with public health measures.
“To move the economy forward, you have to address public health,” he said.
Cuomo said work will begin tomorrow, but without a firm reopen date.
“This is about being smart,” he said – though the governor noted, “It has to be within weeks.”
The coordinating group – 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.
Cuomo’s team said the council will create this framework using every tool available to accomplish the goal of easing social isolation without triggering renewed spread – including 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.
"We have been collaborating closely with our neighboring states to combat this pandemic through a uniform approach to social distancing and density reduction and it has been working well. Now it is time to start opening the valve slowly and carefully while watching the infection rate meter so we don't trigger a second wave of new infections," 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. New York is partnering with these (now six) states to create a multistate council that will come up with a framework based on science and data to gradually ease the stay at home restrictions and get our economy back up and running."
Cuomo also said the decision to reopen schools statewide is his to make, as he made the executive order to close them last month.
Murphy said, "No one has given more thought or is more eager to restart our economy than I am, but if we don't get the sequencing right, we put more lives at risk. The only path to a sustainable economic recovery is through a strong health care 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. A coordinated, regional approach, informed by a multistate council of experts, will help us avoid a major setback with potentially disastrous consequences. I look forward to the day when the facts on the ground allow us to ease our restrictions and move our regional economy forward."
Lamont said, "One thing that's undeniable is that this virus does not stop at the border of any county, state or country, but the impact is the same when it comes to our respective economies and health care systems. Working as a regional coalition to make the right decisions will lead to the best public health results for all of our residents. We must solve these problems together."
Wolf said, "Our highest priority remains protecting the health and safety of Pennsylvanians. While my administration continues to take critical steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, I also recognize that we must look ahead and take a measured, careful approach to prepare for the future while ensuring that we don't undo all of our efforts. Pennsylvania will work collaboratively with our partners both in state and in surrounding states to develop a comprehensive strategy that first focuses on health but also addresses the need to gradually restore our economy."
Carney said, "We still have a situation in Delaware that is getting worse. Infections of COVID-19 and hospitalizations are rising. Delawareans should stay home. Don't go out in public unnecessarily. Don't visit Delaware unless you need to see a doctor, or care for a family member. You'll only increase everyone's risk. At the same time, we need to look forward. We need a consistent approach for moving our states out of this crisis, when that day comes. I'm grateful for the partnership of my fellow governors in the region. They are all working around-the-clock to prevent surges in COVID-19 cases, protect hospital capacity for the most critically ill patients, and save lives. We'll get through this by working together."
Raimondo said, "States are taking the lead as we fight to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives. I'm proud of the steps we've taken, and I'm constantly thinking about what it will take to safely reopen our economy. But we know that this virus does not recognize borders, and it's clear we need a strong, coordinated regional approach to avoid a second wave of this disease. I'm grateful to my fellow governors for their leadership during this crisis and I'm confident that this new partnership will support our efforts to get Rhode Islanders – and all Americans – back to work safely."