On Monday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the governors of Washington and California announced the Western States Pact—a pact that aims for a "shared vision" for reopening the economies in the three Pacific coast states in the contiguous United States. With one in six Americans living in these three states, "the West Coast has an outsized stake in controlling and ultimately defeating COVID-19," Brown's Monday press release reads.
It's not yet clear when reopening will actually happen—but with health officials beginning to see a "flattening of the curve" in Oregon, many are hopeful that the transition could begin as early as next month. Still, leaders in the health care industry are quick to point out that people should continue to practice social distancing for the time being.
In a Source article on the virus' peak, published Friday, St. Charles Health System CEO Joe Sluka said, “While the peak is still coming, your efforts are really making a difference. It has given us precious time to prepare. Now is not the time to let up on social distancing… it is time to double down and continue to stay home.”
Here's the statement released by Gov. Brown, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and California Gov. Gavin Newsom on the Western States Pact:
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.
"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."