California joins West Coast COVID-19 pact aimed at easing restrictions, reopening economy

The West Coast is bending the COVID-19 curve and looking ahead to easing restrictions and reopening the economy based on health outcomes. 

The governors of California, Oregon, and Washington are working on a shared approach to reestablishing a sense of normalcy, but the health of residents remains a top priority. 

"We began a process of establishing more formally, what it would look like and how we could begin the process of the kind of incremental release of the stay-at-home orders that advance the fundamental principle of keeping people healthy, keeping people safe," Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a news conference on Monday.  

Each state is building a state-specific plan and on Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to unveil California's roadmap to repopulating the public. But all three states will follow the same framework. 

No specific details were outlined, but the three governors have agreed to work together to put the health and safety of residents first. Newsom said the decisions will be based on data and science, not politics.

“It's the spirit of collaboration, the spirit of partnership, a recognition that this pandemic knows no boundaries, no borders,” he said. “You can't build walls around it and you can't deny basic fundamental facts.”

President Trump addressed questions regarding states opening too soon or too late at his daily afternoon briefing on Monday.

“The President of the United States calls the shots,” Trump said. ”If we weren’t here for the states, you would have had a problem like you’ve never seen before and we backed them up. We more than backed them up. We did a job that nobody thought was possible. It’s a decision for the President of the United States. Now with that being said, we’ll work with the states.”

California is now in week five of its stay-at-home order and Newsom said the dedication of the states' 41 million residents has resulted in significant progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Modifications to stay-at-home orders will be based on officials' understanding of the total health impacts of COVID-19 on communities including the potential consequences of loosening certain restrictions that were introduced to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 such as social distancing. 

Officials are also looking into the impact on the health care system's ability to treat patients sick with COVID-19 or other conditions. 

Public health leaders are now tasked with implementing measures to control the virus in the future, which includes protecting vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease if infected such as nursing homes and other congregate settings. 

“It's a vexing prospect for every governor across this country, including the President, where we figure out a way of doing this where we don't invite a second wave, we don’t let down our guard, and we don’t put ourselves in a position where we regret moving too quickly,” Newsom added.