Six governors of northeastern states have announced a joint regional task force to devise a plan to restart the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spearheaded the partnership Monday with his counterparts in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware.
Each state will assign to the task force a public health expert, an economic development official and each governor's chief of staff.
Cuomo insisted that steps to reopen the economic "valve" must be driven by data and experts, not politics. Each state is free to develop its own plan, but through coordination, the six governors believe they can implement common-enough practices to get the economy back on its feet without risking a devastating second wave of infections.
The governors questioned President Trump's assertion that the decision to reopen the states was his to make. They noted that it was up to them to close down non-essential business in their respective states, but they seemed to agree that they would be open to hearing a federal plan.
The curve of new COVID-19 hospitalizations has reached its apparent "plateau" in New York. But Governor Cuomo emphasized Monday morning that the result was purely a function of state efforts to social distance and cooperation from residents in the matter.
Cuomo and counterparts like New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy have emphasized that several hundred people are still dying from COVID-19 every day in their states. They have urged residents to stay the course in social distancing, guarding against a spike in cases.
One of the most widely cited virus models, from the Gates Foundation-backed IHME, estimates that COVID-19 deaths in the northeast region will be scarce by the first week of May if current social distancing measures are maintained.
Cuomo has maintained that there is no on/off switch on the economy and there will be no demarcation day in the war against the novel coronavirus. He has hinted that restrictions on non-essential workers will probably be lifted gradually over time, so states can monitor the rate of new infections and scale testing to make it more available.
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