Council Will Include One Health Expert, One Economic Development Expert and Respective Chiefs of Staff from Each State
Council Will Develop a Fully Integrated Regional Framework to Gradually Lift the States' Stay at Home Orders While Minimizing the Risk of Increased Spread of the Virus
New Effort Builds on the States' Ongoing Regional Approach to Combatting COVID-19
Governor Cuomo: "Everyone is very anxious to get out of the house, get back to work, get the economy moving. Everyone agrees with that. What the art form is going to be here is doing that smartly and doing that productively and doing that in a coordinated way."
Cuomo: "No other state has done it before so it is one step forward after research and consultation with experts. I am not a public health expert but this has to be informed by experts and by data. You take one step forward and you see how it works and then you measure the next step. To the extent we can do that together that is the best course."
Recognizing that their states have one integrated regional economy, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Delaware Governor John Carney and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo earlier today announced the creation of a multi-state council to restore the economy and get people back to work. This announcement builds on the states' ongoing regional approach to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coordinating group - comprised of one health expert, one economic development expert and the respective Chief of Staff from each state -- will work together to develop a fully integrated regional framework to gradually lift the states' stay at home orders while minimizing the risk of increased spread of the virus.
The council will create this framework using every tool available to accomplish the goal of easing social isolation without triggering renewed spread - including testing, contact tracing, treatment and social distancing - and will rely on the best available scientific, statistical, social and economic information to manage and evaluate those tools.
AUDIO of the governors' call is available here.
PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the governors' conference call is available below:
Governor Cuomo: Hello. So good to see you again. Thank you very much. Good afternoon to everyone. Let me welcome my fellow governors who are on the telephone who you will hear from in a moment. We have Governor Phil Murphy from the great state of New Jersey. We have Governor Ned Lamont from the great state of Connecticut; Governor Tom Wolf from the great state of Pennsylvania; Governor John Carney from the great state of Delaware; and the Governor Gina Raimondo from the great state of Rhode Island.
I want to thank them for their professionalism and hey way they've been handling this situation respectively. I also want to thank them on behalf of the State of New York for their good work in working with us through this very difficult time. Their mutuality and partnership and cooperation has been a great benefit to the state so I want to thank them for that.
I'm going to make some opening comments and then turn it over to Governor Murphy first and then we will hear from the other governors.
Thank you, governors. I just said I thank you all very much for your professionalism and your cooperation and everything you have done that has benefited the alliance with the State of New York and I also want to thank you and congratulate you on what you have done for your states. It's truly been outstanding and it is my honor to be a colleague to you.
We have been talking today about the fact that New York believes we have reached a plateau in the increase in number of cases. They are not going down but they are not going up at the same rate and we believe it is a quote unquote plateau and that is relatively good news in a world of data options. We should start looking forward to reopening, quote unquote, but reopening with a plan and a smart plan because if you do it wrong it can backfire and we have seen that in other places around the globe.
Everyone is very anxious to get out of the house, get back to work, get the economy moving. Everyone agrees with that. What the art form is going to be here is doing that smartly and doing that productively and doing that in a coordinated way, doing that in coordination with the other states that are in the area and doing it as a cooperative effort where we learn from each other and we share information and we share resources and we share intelligence. No one has done this before. No one on this telephone has done it before. No other state has done it before so it is one step forward after research and consultation with experts. I am not a public health expert but this has to be informed by experts and by data. You take one step forward and you see how it works and then you measure the next step.
To the extent we can do that together that is the best course. There is no doubt about that. I do not believe we wind up with a fully common strategy. You have different states in different positions, within this state you have different areas with different circumstances, and the plan has to fit the facts and the circumstances. It is one situation in New York City, different situation in rural counties, different situation in suburban counties. So how do you address those different set of facts? I want to make sure all the people we represent, make sure that we are smart in the way we are doing this. Yes, we've never been here before, but that doesn't mean you can't ensure public confidence that you're doing everything you can to do it in a smart way, an informed way, guided by experts and data and science. Not in a political way. I think working together we can do that. Each state is going to name a public health official for that state, an economic development official for that state. Those officials and the Chief of Staff of the Governor of each state will then form a working group that will start work immediately on designing a re-opening plan. Taking into consideration the public health concerns and issues and the economic reactivation issues and concerns. Study the data, study the research, study the experience of other countries and give us guidelines and parameters to go forward.
Again, we anticipate different facts, different circumstances for different states; different parts of states, but let's be smart and let's be cooperative and let's learn from one another. That is inarguable. With that, let me turn it over to Governor Phil Murphy. Governor Murphy, thank you so much for being with us.
Governor Murphy: Governor Cuomo, thank you for hosting us so graciously and in the category you're known by the company you keep. I'm honored to be with you and Governor Lamont, Governor Wolf, Governor Carney and Governor Raimondo in this discussion and in this initiative. Just as we harmonize as states, New Jersey is the densest state in America and we're in that corridor that is so unique. It was imperative not to just do the things that we needed to do within our four walls as we closed our state down, but to do it in close coordination with New York and Pennsylvania and Delaware and Connecticut especially.
It's that same spirit that we're coming together and acknowledging, whenever it is - by the way, we have not yet plateaued. We're a couple of beats behind New York. Our positive tests have begun to flatten, but we're not yet there. Whenever it is that we determine based on the facts, the data, the science that it is safe for us to responsibly begin the reopening and all the health care infrastructure that goes with that. To do that in coordination seems to be an overwhelmingly prudent approach. We're honored to be very much a part of this group. We do know this, that an economic recovery only occurs on the back of a complete health care recovery and that order is essential. And getting that wrong, transposing those steps or jumping in too early, or maybe jumping in by ourselves.
Governor Cuomo and I have talked about the protocols on one side of the Hudson for a restaurant or bar are different than the other, or similarly -- across the Delaware, you could have inadvertent unintended consequences, which could be grave. So, getting this right, both the timing, the infrastructure, as well as input as Governor Cuomo has said, from both health care experts, as well as economic development experts, in addition to our government colleagues, seems to me and to us to be an incredibly smart way to go. This is the fight of our lives, let there be no doubt about it. We are not out of the woods yet, and reopening ourselves back up will be equally challenging beyond a shadow of a doubt.
So, I'm honored to be with my fellow governors, as I have been every step of the way over the past several months, and look forward to that spirit and coordination going forward. Thanks, Governor Cuomo.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you, thank you very much, governor Murphy. You are right, we started this journey together, we are going to end it together on a positive note. Same with Governor Ned Lamont from the state of Connecticut. Governor Lamont, thank you very much, thank you for being with us.
Governor Lamont: Andrew, thanks for getting us organized and everybody here. I will just pick up where Phil left off. He mentioned the major transportation corridors that interconnect New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as part of a tri-state workforce. And we all slowly closed down methodically parts of our economy in a way that we tried to mitigate the effects of the contagion, and we are going to be thoughtful about how we get this opened as well. But Governor Cuomo, you know all of our pandemic here in Connecticut is all along that I-95 metro-north corridor where we have hundreds of thousands of people going back and forth between New York and Connecticut. It is the commuter corridor for us, but it's also the Covid corridor. Which is why it's so important we work together thoughtfully on this. Listen to the experts as you say and make sure you do not pull the trigger to early. I'm looking over at Japan, and Hong Kong, and Singapore, and those places have unfortunately seen a small resurgence, the second half of the V coming back again. That would be so demoralizing for our economy. So that is why what we do, I want to do on a coordinated basis, have a data base that we share, establish the same protocols, so we know how we are working together to get the information down to Washington so they can coordinate as well. I mean, we are going to be thinking about the mix of PCR, antigens, in probably the low infection areas, in terms of testing, and probably the antibody testing in those areas where it is more prevalent so we can put together a system that allows our people to get back to work. And I couldn't agree with each and every one of you that working together makes the most sense, listening to the experts, doing this methodically, but doing it now. Back to you, Governor Cuomo.
Governor Cuomo: Amen. Thank you very much, Governor Lamont, thank you. Governor Tom Wolf from Pennsylvania. Tom, good to be with you again.
Governor Wolf: Good to be with you, too, Governor Cuomo. Thank you for doing this and thank you to my fellow governors for making this effort possible. You know, we all know that we can do anything better when we work together in this region and we have done good things by working together. We have shared ideas and plans and we have shared in going through this challenge. And this partnership, this council that we are forming here recognizes that simple fact. And I agree with the sentiments of my partners that we need to do this right, and that is what we are trying to do. But this partnership recognizes something else that I think it's really important. It recognizes that we need to come up with a specific and a smart plan for this uncertain future that lies ahead. But it is also that we are creating a plan to let our people, the people that we serve, the citizens of our states, that we indeed do have a future. And this is as important as coming up with the specific elements of this plan. It has to be responsible but it has to show us that we do have a future. As we figure out how we are going to reopen our schools, how we reopen our businesses and our homes, we are also going to recognize that we are trying to figure out how we are going to restore the sense of hope that this pandemic has taken away from so many of us. And I'm proud of the people who are going to be working on this for Pennsylvania, the Secretary of Health, the Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, and my Chief of Staff. We're all going to do a great job for the people we serve and I think we're going to show the people of the United States how you come out of something as devastating as this in a responsible fashion. Governor Cuomo, thank you again for doing this and back to you.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you, Governor Wolf. Thank you very much. I couldn't agree more with what my colleagues are saying and Governor Wolf's point. We talk about the economic toll, which we can quantify. You can't quantify the emotional toll this is taking on people and I think Governor Wolf is exactly right. Knowing that there's another day, a new day coming—may be different than past days, but it can be a bright day. And that is true and we have to focus on that. Governor Carney, very good to be with you John. Thanks for taking the time and all the help and the coordination. Governor Carney?
Governor Carney: I want to thank my colleagues for this cooperative effort, especially you Governor Cuomo for bringing us together and frankly for your leadership on a day to day basis under very difficult circumstances there in metro New York City and your state, you've provided great leadership there and across the country and we certainly appreciate that. Certainly thanks for including Delaware, we're on the southern end of this region but we're connected importantly by the I-95 corridor and the Amtrak northeast region, so in a very important way we're part of the region, if only a small part. We have seen the connection among our states through this as many of the folks who work in our state live in Governor Wolf's state or across the river in New Jersey and they've obviously had to balance the various provisions and restrictions in each of our states. So this will help us as we think through what it takes to re-enter and get our economies moving again. Frankly it'll really just formalize, for me, what I've already been doing along with Governors Murphy and Wolf in our metro Philadelphia area as we talk on a number of occasions about decisions that we've had to make in terms of shutting down businesses, in terms of business supply chains that are connected among our states. This will formalize that and really put before us all the decisions that we have coming ahead of us, and I think may be even more difficult than decisions on the front end of this in the last month and a half, two months, as we get on the other side of the peak like the greater New York City area is reaching now. How do we open things in a way that's safe? I heard Governor Murphy say yesterday that we need to get the patients healthy before we can get the economy healthy and I think he's exactly right in that and so working together, our economies are connected. Our states are connected in a real way in terms of transportation and visitation and the rest. So our working together, sharing our information and intelligence I think will help each of us make better decisions. So I want to thank all of you for your leadership.
This is a time we're experiencing uncharted waters here and I think ahead of this will be more uncharted waters, but working together we will do a better job for the people that we work for and we'll make smart decisions in re-opening our economy. We're a little bit different down here, a little bit behind I think those of you in northern New Jersey and New York City. Our message here at home is still be safe, stay at home. When you go out, you know, observe appropriate social distancing and we will continue with that message but at the same time think about the timing of re-entry and getting life back to normal again if that ever occurs.
So again, Governor Cuomo, thank you so much for including the first state here in the southern end of this region. We appreciate your leadership in the great state of New York and your leadership with this collaborative task force. I thank you very much.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Thank you very much Governor Carney and you're so right. We're all learning. This is new for all of us and it throws out a lot of the old rules and the old ways of doing business and these state boundaries mean very little to this virus. Somebody can get on Amtrak or somebody can get in a car and go up the I-95 corridor and it doesn't matter if they're from Delaware or New Jersey or Connecticut or New York or what state they're from, it can have the same consequence. So we're learning and we're growing every day. Thank you, John. Governor Gina Raimondo from the state of Rhode Island, Governor Raimondo thank you for much for taking the time to be with us. Thank you for working through all these issues with us on behalf of New York. Gina Raimondo.
Governor Raimondo: Good afternoon, can you hear me?
Governor Cuomo: Yes, we can.
Governor Raimondo: Hi, good afternoon, and thank you all. Thank you, Andrew, for leading us and convening this group. I think it's a terrific initiative. Like all of you, all the governors who spoke and all the governors I've been speaking with, I am constantly thinking about what it's going to take to safely reopen our economy. Like you, I don't want to keep people out of work one day longer than necessary. However, we need to do it safely, which means we need a smart, targeted approach to slowly reopen the economy in a way that keeps everybody - most especially the elderly, the vulnerable, and those with preexisting conditions - safe. So, like many of you, I have a team here that I've assembled to develop a plan for what we are calling the new normal. We're looking at everything from how we screen people entering businesses to how we utilize more touchless technology in our day to day interactions. Doing a deep dive industry by industry on new guidelines for this new normal. I'm looking forward to this initiative. I'm looking forward to being a part of the working group and exchanging ideas. Like you have said, none of us has ever gone through this before and I am confident that by working together and sharing our best ideas we will be much more likely to get it right for the citizens of our states and our region.
I will say, throughout the crisis, the governors are the ones who have been showing great leadership and taking action to keep our residents safe. I think it's only appropriate that we do the same thing now by coming together and showing regional leadership to reopen the economy. As everyone has said, I think if you take a coordinated approach on a regional level, we'll be that much more successful.
I know that over the past few weeks I've spoken frequently with the governors on this call, with the governor of Massachusetts, governors all around the country. Our ongoing collaboration idea exchange coordination has certainly enabled all of us to keep people safe in our states.
The reality is this virus doesn't care about state boarders. Our response shouldn't either. So, I am fully in support of this effort and look forward to working with each of you to make sure that we do get to the business of getting folks back to work and we do it in the smartest, safest way possible.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much, Gina. Thank you, Governor Raimondo. I couldn't agree more with all of my colleagues and Governor Raimondo's point. None of us have done this before. Sharing information, learning from each other, pooling resources is only smart. We have to be smart. You need the best public health plan and you need the best economic reactivation plan. It's not either or, it has to be both. No one is willing to sacrifice one at the expense of the other and you can't have one at the expense of the other. But how you do it, that's the art form.