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Northeast governors form group to discuss reopening of region economies

 

The governors of six states in the northeast are working together to create joint recommendations on how they can reopen their economies in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The effort is being led by New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoThree National Guardsmen killed after military helicopter crash in New York New York City reschedules 23,000 vaccination appointments due to supply issues Pence delivers coronavirus task force report to Biden MORE (D) and includes Democratic Govs. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Ned Lamont of Connecticut, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, John CarneyJohn Charles CarneySenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls Here's where the National Guard is activated on Election Day Suspect in Whitmer kidnap plot was pardoned in Delaware last year MORE of Delaware and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.

Later on Monday, Cuomo's office announced Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will also join the coalition, making him the lone Republican.

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During a conference call Monday, the governors said they will name a public health official, an economic official and their respective chiefs of staff to work on the plan.

The governors emphasized the importance of working together, so one state doesn't end up with policies that would put its neighbors at risk or cause the outbreak to start up again. 

"Study the data, study the research, study the experiences of other countries, and give us guidelines and parameters to go forward. Let's be smart and let's be cooperative and let's learn from one another," Cuomo said.

Echoing comments made by Cuomo earlier Monday, Murphy said the decision about easing restrictions will be a delicate balance.

"If you get that wrong ... if you jam it in too early, you could throw gasoline on the fire and reignite and that's the last thing any of us need right now," Murphy said.

Cuomo said the goal is to have recommendations in a matter of weeks.

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"We didn't start with a timetable. We said want it ASAP, but we want it smart. This is about being smart first, not political," Cuomo said.

The governors emphasized that economic and health care needs must both be considered on an equal basis — but also said a health care recovery must come first.

"Everything we have been looking at says we will only get an economic recovery if it comes on the back of a health care recovery," Murphy said. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE has indicated that he wants to start reopening parts of the economy May 1, but the state-level compact is the latest example of individual governors making the calls for their states.

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington also on Monday announced a similar initiative to create a joint plan to restart their economies. 

The federal government has mostly left states to enact their own policies, and Trump has largely avoided telling states what measures to put in place.

The result is that mitigation measures vary across the country. While most states have stay-at-home orders, including all six working on the joint plan, others do not. The stringency of those orders also varies.

However, Trump on Monday claimed that he, not governors, has the ultimate authority to loosen restrictions on states.

When asked if the state collaboration was a rebuke of Trump's comments, Murphy said he was only focused on making sure he was following the best science-based evidence.