Colorado, Nevada Join Oregon, California and Washington in ‘Western States Pact’

The so-called Western States Pact is growing, Governor Kate Brown announced Monday.

Originally a shared vision by Oregon, California and Washington to reopen their states’ economies in conjunction with one another while still fighting to stem the spread of Covid-19, Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak have announced they’d like to share in the regional effort.

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Oregon, together with Colorado, Nevada, Washington, and California will use health outcomes and science to guide us as we recover from this pandemic: with a shared vision, a common purpose, and individual paths forward tailored to our states’ needs.https://t.co/HtdGqTtlfZ

“As Western states, we are all in this together,” Governor Kate Brown said. “In the same way that we share expertise and help one another during wildfire season, we will work together as we recover from the impacts of this pandemic — with a shared vision, a common purpose and individual paths forward tailored to the needs of our states — to reopen our communities and economies, and prepare our constituents for a safe return to public life.”

The governor of Colorado said his state has “important information” to share and learn from others.

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“I’m thrilled Colorado is joining the Western States Pact,” Governor Polis said. “There’s no silver bullet that will solve this pandemic until there is a cure, so we must have a multifaceted and bold approach in order to slow the spread of the virus, to keep our people safe and help our economy rebound.”

Steve Sisolak, governor of a state that draws millions of visitors from Oregon, California and Washington each year, said he believes the partnership will be “vital to our immediate recovery and long term economic comeback.”

When Governor Brown, along with California Governor Gavin Newsom and Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced the three-state pact earlier this month, they released the following statement outlining their shared foundational principles and goals.

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.

    Photo of governors Jay Inslee and Kate Brown from a 2019 event, courtesy the office of Governor Brown.

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