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5 states join Western States Pact, pledge to follow science, not politics in fight against COVID-19

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Posted at 11:17 AM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 14:23:18-04

Colorado, as well as Nevada, will join California, Oregon and Washington in the Western States Pact, according to a Monday morning announcement from the Office of the Governor.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak both made the announcement Monday morning.

The Western States Pact is a group of governors from the western states that have a shared vision for modifying the stay-at-home orders and continuing to fight the novel coronavirus. The governors have pledged that health outcomes and science, and not politics, will guide their decisions regarding COVID-19.

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington announced on April 13 that they would work together under this shared vision.

“Coloradans are working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and have important information to share with and to gain from other states,” Polis said. “I’m thrilled Colorado is joining the Western States Pact. 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.”

Polis said earlier this month he had been talking with the governors of Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah about coordinating their plans together but that they had not formed an official alliance.

The Western States Pact includes three shared principles.

First, residents’ health comes before all else. According to the text in the pact, the west has a major stake in controlling and defeating COVID-19.

Second, politics will not guide the decisions made about stay-at-home orders — health outcomes, science and data will, the pact reads. The governors of the states in the pact will use information such as the impact of the disease in their communities, the health impact of measures introduced to control its spread, and health care systems’ abilities to ensure care for those who become infected.

Each state needs to see a decline in the rate of spread before any kind of large-scale reopening, according to the pact. Colorado will work alongside the other states in the pact to identify the best metrics to guide that decision.

Third, states will only be effective by working together. Each one will work with its local leaders and public health officials to understand the impact of COVID-19, and then each state will adhere to the agreed upon approach, according to the pact.

By following these principles, the governors involved in the pact will work toward four goals:

1. Protecting vulnerable populations, which includes a targeted effort to prevent and fight outbreaks at nursing homes and long-term care facilities
2. Ensuring the ability to care for anybody who becomes sick, which will require adequate hospital surge capacity and personal protective equipment supplies
3. Mitigating any non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly for those in disadvantaged communities
4. Protecting the general public by ensuring that the lifting of the orders also includes a system of testing, tracking and isolating

The Western States Pact isn't the only one of its kind in the United States.

Northeastern states — New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts — have also joined forces to coordinate how the economy would reopen in those states. This multi-state council was announced April 13.

Midwest governors have also announced a partnership to reopen that regional economy. The governors of Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan said on April 16 that they would work in close coordination with each other to continue to fight COVID-19.