On Monday night, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that several states in the Northeast have formed a pact to coordinate efforts for determining when, and how, each of their respective states would reopen their economies and lift the various stay-at-home orders currently in place. Among the states participating in these efforts are New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. With residents often traveling across neighboring state borders for work and family reasons, Governor Cuomo emphasized that the group of Northeast states would share information to come up with a “consistent, if not complementary” plan.
Other states on the West coast—such as California, Washington, and Oregon—have announced a similar “western state pact” to work cooperatively towards reopening their states by gradually easing restrictions and stay-at-home orders.
In furtherance of these efforts, the Northeast states intend to name a public health and economic official to a regional working group that will also include the chief of staff of the governor of each state. These officials will work closely with public health officials and other experts to design a step-by-step approach for reopening each state while limiting the potential for new outbreaks of COVID-19. Governor Cuomo further stressed that such efforts would be “guided by experts, data and science” and would be a measured approach that slowly reopens each state in consultation with public health experts.
The formation of regional pacts among coastal states comes in response to recent efforts by President Trump to introduce a federally mandated plan to reopen the country. While there is likely to be disagreement over the constitutionality of President Trump’s plan, the collaborative efforts by the governors nonetheless demonstrate that state and local governments will gradually remove restrictions in the coming weeks and months as the COVID-19 infection rate continues to flatten.
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Author Gaetano Piccirilli is a partner in the Litigation Department at Klehr Harrison.