Oregon, Washington and California Form Pact to Jointly Reopen States From COVID-19 Stay-Home Orders

While the stay-home orders are state powers, the move highlights the failures of the federal government in addressing the pandemic.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown joined California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee today in a "Western states pact" for coordinating when to end stay-home orders and reopen West Coast states.

The announcement from the governors pledged that the three states would end their shutdowns only in concert, and would do it in a way that would best mitigate the effects of COVID-19. They promised to share data and place citizens' health ahead of other concerns.

Essentially, the three governors promised they wouldn't reopen their states until all of them were on board.

"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," the three said in a statement. "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," including "adequate hospital surge capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment."

While the stay-home orders are state powers, the move highlights the failures of the federal government in addressing the pandemic. The announcement comes after President Trump claimed incorrectly that he had the power to order the nation's businesses to open, and as the White House prepares to launch its own "Council to Reopen America."

It also comes after Brown told KGW-TV last week that her criteria for ending the stay-home order included at least 10 days of no deaths, more protective equipment, more COVID-19 testing, and the ability to trace any outbreaks.

Related: Why Gov. Kate Brown gave Mayor Ted Wheeler what he wanted: a coronavirus lockdown.

Oregon has averted the worst possible outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic in part by acting soon after Washington and California to shut down venues, restaurants and schools—and to order all citizens to stay home as much as possible. Newsom issued California's shelter in place order March 19; Inslee and Brown followed four days later.

The pact now assures that they will consult with each other formally before scaling back those lockdowns.

Update: The governor's office says there will not be one dramatic moment of reopening all businesses.

"Reopening Oregon is not a process that will happen overnight or statewide all at once," says Brown spokesman Charles Boyle. "Each decision will be carefully weighed and made in consultation with local leaders to make sure policies are implemented correctly, with safeguards in place to protect the public health. Health outcomes will be the ultimate metric guiding decisions to reopen communities—we will only reopen Oregon if the data shows we can do so without jeopardizing public health."

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