NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Washington, Oregon, and California unveil new alliance: Western States Pact

The Unit­ed States’ Left Coast gov­er­nors today made it abun­dant­ly clear that they — not Don­ald Trump — will decide when to lift their Stay Home, Stay Healthy orders and allow busi­ness­es that are cur­rent­ly closed to ful­ly reopen.

Wash­ing­ton’s Jay Inslee, Ore­gon’s Kate Brown, and Cal­i­for­ni­a’s Gavin New­som said in a state­ment pro­vid­ed to the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute that they have decid­ed to form a new alliance called the West­ern States Pact.

Here is that announce­ment in its entirety:

Today, Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor Gavin New­som and Ore­gon Gov­er­nor Kate Brown announced an agree­ment on a shared vision for reopen­ing their economies and con­trol­ling COVID-19 into the future.

Joint state­ment from the gov­er­nors:

COVID-19 has preyed upon our inter­con­nect­ed­ness. In the com­ing weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 – with our states act­ing in close coor­di­na­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion to ensure the virus can nev­er spread wild­ly in our communities.

We are announc­ing that Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton have agreed to work togeth­er on a shared approach for reopen­ing our economies – one that iden­ti­fies clear indi­ca­tors for com­mu­ni­ties to restart pub­lic life and business.

While each state is build­ing a state-spe­cif­ic plan, our states have agreed to the fol­low­ing prin­ci­ples as we build out a West Coast framework:

  • Our res­i­dents’ health comes first. As home to one in six Amer­i­cans and gate­way to the rest of the world, the West Coast has an out­sized stake in con­trol­ling and ulti­mate­ly defeat­ing COVID-19.
  • Health out­comes and sci­ence – not pol­i­tics — will guide these deci­sions. Mod­i­fi­ca­tions to our states’ stay at home orders must be made based off our under­stand­ing of the total health impacts of COVID-19, includ­ing: the direct impact of the dis­ease on our com­mu­ni­ties; the health impact of mea­sures intro­duced to con­trol the spread in com­mu­ni­ties —par­tic­u­lar­ly felt by those already expe­ri­enc­ing social dis­ad­van­tage pri­or to COVID-19; and our health care sys­tems’ abil­i­ty to ensure care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and oth­er con­di­tions. This effort will be guid­ed by data. We need to see a decline in the rate of spread of the virus before large-scale reopen­ing, and we will be work­ing in coor­di­na­tion to iden­ti­fy the best met­rics to guide this.
  • Our states will only be effec­tive by work­ing togeth­er. Each state will work with it’s local lead­ers and com­mu­ni­ties with­in its bor­ders to under­stand what’s hap­pen­ing on the ground and adhere to our agreed upon approach.

Through quick and deci­sive action, each of our states has made sig­nif­i­cant progress in flat­ten­ing the curve and slow­ing the spread of COVID-19 among the broad­er public.

Now, our pub­lic health lead­ers will focus on four goals that will be crit­i­cal for con­trol­ling the virus in the future.

  • Pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions at risk for severe dis­ease if infect­ed. This includes a con­cert­ed effort to pre­vent and fight out­breaks in nurs­ing homes and oth­er long-term care facilities.
  • Ensur­ing an abil­i­ty to care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and oth­er con­di­tions. This will require ade­quate hos­pi­tal surge capac­i­ty and sup­plies of per­son­al pro­tec­tive equipment.
  • Mit­i­gat­ing the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, par­tic­u­lar­ly on dis­ad­van­taged communities.
  • Pro­tect­ing the gen­er­al pub­lic by ensur­ing any suc­cess­ful lift­ing of inter­ven­tions includes the devel­op­ment of a sys­tem for test­ing, track­ing and iso­lat­ing. The states will work togeth­er to share best practices.

COVID-19 doesn’t fol­low state or nation­al bound­aries. It will take every lev­el of gov­ern­ment, work­ing togeth­er, and a full pic­ture of what’s hap­pen­ing on the ground.

In the com­ing days the gov­er­nors, their staff and health offi­cials will con­tin­ue con­ver­sa­tions about this region­al pact to recovery.

Our team at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute applauds this effort.

It is tru­ly won­der­ful to see the Left Coast com­ing togeth­er in defense of our Amer­i­can val­ues. The health, safe­ty, and well-being of our peo­ple must be our high­est pri­or­i­ty. We need a strat­e­gy for deal­ing with this pan­dem­ic that takes into account our inter­de­pen­dence and interconnectedness.

It’s a relief to see that our region’s gov­er­nors rec­og­nize this.

Some­thing sim­i­lar is being put togeth­er on the oth­er side of the country.

New York, New Jer­sey, Con­necti­cut, Penn­syl­va­nia, Delaware, and Rhode Island have formed a region­al advi­so­ry coun­cil to guide their next moves.

“We can­not act on our own,” said New Jer­sey Gov­er­nor Phil Mur­phy.

“We must be smart and tac­ti­cal in how our region comes out of this, or else we’ll be right back to square one.”

The West­ern States Pact will need to be fur­ther fleshed out, and it sounds like we’ll be hear­ing more very soon. In the absence of strong and sound lead­er­ship at the fed­er­al lev­el, this is just what the doc­tor ordered.

Thank you, Gov­er­nors, for putting this togeth­er and show­ing what states can do. Let’s be a mod­el for the entire coun­try in these dif­fi­cult times.

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