New York and six northeast states working toward a shared re-opening strategy

Photo by Mike Groll, Office of the Governor
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa listen to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe during a conference call on April 13 with states across the Northeast about a shared plan to re-open the regional economy when it is safe.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that New York will join a number of states in an informal “council” that will focus on getting people back to work and restoring the economy across the Northeast. 

In his April 13 press conference, Gov. Cuomo spoke to Gov. Murphy of New Jersey, Gov. Lamont of Connecticut, Gov. Wolf of Pennsylvania, Gov. Carney of Delaware and Gov. Raimondo of Rhode Island. The governors declared that their respective states would be creating a multi-state council that would work together to start planning the reopening of the economy when the time is right. Later that day, the state of Massachusetts also joined the regional council. 

The council would include three members from each state – a public health official, an economic official, and the chief of staff from each state’s executive chamber. 

The seven-state council is developing a fully integrated plan to lift the their stay at home orders while minimizing the risk of increased spread of the virus.  

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,” Cuomo said. “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.

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 states to create a multi-state 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 emphasized the importance of reopening with a plan, and doing so smartly and in a coordinated way since the state’s share a regional economy, roads, a workforce, shopping and entertainment venues. The council will be studying other countries that have loosened their restrictions after the COVID-19 outbreak, to see what they have done right and wrong. 

Countries that have eased up restrictions have seen a second wave of infections, especially prevalent across Asia. Mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore were among some of the first places to impose a lockdown due to COVID-19. However, once restrictions were eased up, there was a resurgence in infections.

While the plan is to work in unison, Cuomo acknowledged that it may not be entirely possible. New York currently has plateaued with the number of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and intubations. 

However, states like New Jersey and Connecticut are a couple steps behind New York, and still have not reached their peak. 

Earlier on Monday, Cuomo outlined the steps that would be required to reopen the state. Isolation would have to be eased, which would result in an increase in economic activity. This would require a re-evaluation of which workers would be considered “essential.” 

More testing and precautions would have to be put in place to ensure that the infection rate does not increase.

“You’ll start to open that valve on economic activity, and you’ll turn that valve very slowly, reopening the economy,” Cuomo said. “Do it carefully, do it slowly, and do it intelligently. More testing and more precautions at the same time that you’re opening that valve.” 

While New York state continues to see a flattening of the curve, the total number of lives lost as of April 13 is 10,834. 

With the reopening of the region, Cuomo calls the workforce, health care system, school districts and transportation systems as “gears that have to move together.”