Coronavirus: New York governor forms taskforce with five states to reopen economy

New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island will all work together with the state 

Danielle Zoellner
Monday 13 April 2020 19:30
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Coronavirus: New York flattening the curve despite jump in death toll, Cuomo says

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has formed a taskforce with five other states in the vicinity with the focus on how to reopen each economy following the coronavirus pandemic.

The partnership between New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Delaware was announced on Monday during a news conference between each states' governors.

Mr Cuomo, who led the conference, said a public health official and an economic adviser would be appointed by each state and then work alongside each governors’ chief of staff on the new taskforce to formulate a plan.

“We’ve been talking today about the fact that New York believes we have reached a plateau,” Mr Cuomo said. “We should start looking forward to reopening, quote unquote, but reopening with a plan and a smart plan.”

“The state boundaries mean very little to this virus,” he added when explaining why this taskforce was needed.

Work will begin with the 18 members on the taskforce as soon as Tuesday. Any other Northeastern states were welcome to contribute to the taskforce, Mr Cuomo added.

Joining the New York governor during the news conference was New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and he said the plan formed by the six states should be based on "facts, the date, the science" when determining how to reopen each area.

Timing was important, the governor added, to avoid any resurgence of the virus. "You could have inadvertent unintended consequences, which could be grave," Mr 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 as challenging, beyond the shadow of a doubt," he added.

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Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said the states all working together, given their close proximity, was important to ensure "we don't pull the trigger too early."

Mr Lamont's state, he explained, had issues with the coronavirus pandemic because of the transportation corridor along I-95, which connects Connecticut to New York. So a partnership was necessary to avoid residents in either state causing a resurgence in the other.

Not only are the states connected by transportation, but they are also connected through their economies.

"Our economies are connected, our states are connected in a real way … so working together will help each of us make a better decision," Governor John Carney of Delaware said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said during the news conference the formation of this taskforce helped let citizens know that the governors and state officials were planning for a future after the pandemic.

"This partnership recognises something else that I think is important … it is that we are creating a plan that our people, citizens of our state ... that we do indeed have a future," he said.

The final governor to speak during the news conference about this new taskforce was Rhode Island's Gina Raimondo, and she said it was important for the states to "lean into this to get it all right."

"We need to (reopen) safely, which means we need a smart, targeted approach," she added.

Although the six state governors were working on a collaborative plan on how to reopen each of their economies in a way that works for the entire area, this plan could potentially hinge on President Donald Trump and the federal government.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump tweeted that he held the power to reopen the entire country, not the state governors.

"For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect," he wrote. "It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!"

Mr Cuomo was asked about the president's statement regarding reopening the country on his decision versus what the state governors believe would be the correct route.

"He left it to the states to close down. He took the position it was a states position. That was the model of management for this disaster emergency," the governor said. "If (the federal government) want(s) to change the model, they can change the model. He is the president of the United States. He is the federal government."

But the governor said it was then up to the federal government, if they chose this task, to be "specific" and provide "clarity" about what was expected of each state during the reopening given how areas largely differ from each other when it comes to infections and death toll.

New York, for example, would not be able to open similar to that of Kentucky or Nevada.

"Let’s learn from the past," he said. "This has not been smooth sailing."

Following the announcement from the Northeastern states, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his state was partnering with Oregon and Washington to formulate a plan about reopening the West Coast and controlling the virus in the future.

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