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Governors Team Up To Plan The Reopening Of The Economy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at daily coronavirus update on April 13.

Governors from six states in the Northeast formed an interstate task force aimed at reopening the states’ economies after the coronavirus peaks and begins to subside, they announced Monday afternoon.

The collaboration among New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Delaware Gov. John Carney is one of two interstate cooperation initiatives announced Monday. Washington, Oregon and California announced a similar partnership on the West Coast. 

“Everyone is very anxious to get out of the house, get back to work, get the economy moving,” said Cuomo, whose state has been the epicenter of the pandemic with over 188,000 cases and more than 10,000 deaths. “Everyone agrees with that, but what the art form is going to be here is doing that productively ... doing it as a cooperative effort where we learn from each other, where we share information and we share resources and we share intelligence.”  

On Tuesday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced that his state would also join the Northeast task force.

The East Coast collaboration will include a health official and an economic development official from each state to sit on the task force, along with each of the governors’ chiefs of staff, Cuomo said. They will also share university resources and scientific resources, he said.

Together, the task force will design a plan to reopen the hub of the U.S. economy, which has shut down over the past month to prevent the spread of the virus. The group will start immediately and is expected to have its first update within the next few weeks. 

The states came together to alleviate a crisis that could emerge if neighboring states were to reopen without proper knowledge of the complexity of another’s status or response to the crisis, the governors said. The governors pointed to shared transportation infrastructure and frequent travel between the states as a key reason behind the collaboration. 

“If the protocols on one side of the Hudson [River] for a restaurant or a bar are different than the other, you could have inadvertent unintended consequences, which could be grave,” Murphy said. “This is the fight of our lives, let there be no doubt about it, and we’re not out of the woods yet. And reopening ourselves back up will be equally challenging, without a shadow of a doubt.” 

Cuomo touted the initiative as a first for the nation, and his announcement was closely followed by a similar one on the opposite side of the country, led by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday morning and railed at the idea that states’ could operate independently of the federal government in plans to reopen.  But Cuomo said the “model of management” the Trump administration has taken so far throughout the crisis is to leave it up to the states. 

While Trump has expressed desires to reopen the national economy as quickly as possible — forming a task force of his own, which includes Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner — many U.S. businesses are preparing for a long, arduous journey back to normal.

UPDATE, APRIL 14, 1:40 P.M. ETThis story has been updated to reflect Massachusetts' addition to the interstate reopening task force.