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Governors discuss, defend plans to reopen state economies amid coronavirus pandemic

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Governors leading states hit by the coronavirus outbreak took to the Sunday shows to explain – and in some cases defend – their plans for restarting public life.

A handful of governors have already reopened certain businesses, with phased plans in place to roll out further opening.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.), the chair of the National Governors Association (NGA), has said he will be “very cautious” in reopening his state, but did not go so far as to condemn governors taking action to reopen businesses as early as this week. 

“As chair of the NGA, are you concerned that any of those other states we’re seeing now open, like Georgia and Oklahoma, that they’re moving too fast?” ABC “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked Hogan. 

“Certain states are in different points of the curve and they’ve got different situations on the ground, and I don’t want to second guess my colleagues in different states,” Hogan said, adding that he’s not as familiar as what is happening in other states and regions. 

“But I think, you know, various governors are making decisions based on what they think is best for their states,” he said. 

Hogan said in Maryland officials are watching “certain metrics and looking at a pattern of number” before making any decision. 

He said the number of hospitalizations is leveling off, but the number of cases and deaths continues to rise. 

“Everything is going to be based on the numbers and the science. We’re not going to do anything that’s going to put anybody in more dangers,” he said. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) extended her statewide executive order through May 15, with some adjustments easing restrictions on boating and golfing. 

She said on Sunday that measures need to be in place for “robust testing” and community tracing as the state weighs when to lift its restrictions. 

“We’ve got to be nimble and we have to follow the science and be really smart about how we reengage, because no one — no one, even if you’re a protestor or you’re the sitting governor or you’re on another side of the issue. We know that no one wants a second wave,” she said on “This week.” “It would be devastating for the health of our people and for our economy. And so we’ve got to be really smart as we reengage.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who is serving the second hardest hit state by the pandemic, said his state is still several weeks away from starting a first phase of gradually reopening the economy. 

The number of positive cases has leveled off and the number of hospitalizations are down, but New Jersey is “not out of the woods yet.” 

“[The] mandate to stay at home stay [and] away from each other is still very much in effect until we can break the back of this curve,” Murphy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

Other governors have announced a gradual lift of restrictions. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), for example, has not extended the state’s stay-at-home order expiring Sunday and instead has said the state is entering a “safer at home” phase in which some of the restrictions are lifted but officials recommend residents continue to remain at home. 

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Polis if he’s worried that his decision “could theoretically cost your constituents their lives.” 

“We always wish, Jake, that I had next week’s information and next month’s information available to me today. That’s not the world we live in, we have to make the best informed decision based on data and science with the information we have,” Polis said on “State of the Union.” 

Polis emphasized the need to put in place sustainable social distancing practices to push ahead with the coronavirus response. 

“If we can’t succeed in doing that on an ongoing basis, the stay-at-home was for nothing. It doesn’t accomplish anything, if it’s not replaced with practices that are sustainable for the weeks and months that it’s likely to remain with us,” he said. 

Under Colorado’s upcoming “safer at home” phase, night clubs, gyms and spas will remain closed as will k-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year. 

Restaurants and bars will also remain closed for dine-in service with the state working toward a phased reopening. 

Personal services, such as salons, dog grooming and personal training, will open with precautions and elective medical and dental procedures can begin.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) allowed some businesses, including hair salons, barbershops, spas, nail salons and pet groomers, to start opening Friday. 

Other nonessential businesses in Oklahoma will be permitted to reopen on May 1 as long as they follow social distancing and sanitation guidelines. 

Stitt defended his decision claiming it was made after a “steady decline since March 30th” in hospitalizations. 

“And that’s when we decided to have a measured reopening,” Stitt said on “Fox News Sunday.” 

“We’re always going to be data driven in Oklahoma,” he added, 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) was also among the first state leaders to announce a reopening of the state economy. CNN’s Tapper said Kemp declined a request to be interviewed, but former Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams called Kemp’s decision “dangerous.” 

“We are not ready to open and this is a dangerous decision. We cannot open an economy when the people that empower that economy are at risk and until Georgia can trace and track and treat, then we cannot reopen the economy,” Abrams, who has been mentioned as a possible running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, added. 

Tags Coronavirus George Stephanopoulos Jake Tapper Jared Polis Joe Biden Social distancing stay-at-home order Sunday shows

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