California, Oregon and Washington Announce Joint Plan to Ease Social Distancing Restrictions, Reopen Businesses

In anticipation of the reopening of state economies as new coronavirus cases begin to wane, the state governments of California, Oregon and Washington are expected to work together to create a unified West Coast plan to loosen current stay-at-home restrictions.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, all Democrats, announced the plan in a joint press release on Monday.

"COVID-19 has preyed upon our interconnectedness," read the statement provided to Newsweek by Governor Inslee's office. "In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19—with our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities."

"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 to restart public life and business," the statement continued.

Although the states will be working on individual plans, the collective West Coast plan is expected to be based on data.

"We need to see a decline in the rate of the spread of the virus before large-scale reopening," the statement read, "and we will be working in coordination to identify the best metrics to guide this."

Also included in plan guidelines are expected to be mitigation of coronavirus in disadvantaged communities, adequate medical equipment and capacity, a system for testing for the virus along with tracking and isolating those infected, and "a concerted effort to prevent and fight outbreaks in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities."

No target date for the ease of coronavirus mitigation restrictions was provided in the announcement.

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Washington Governor Jay Inslee, along with the governors of Oregon and California, announced a joint plan to determine when to reopen businesses on the West Coast on Monday. John Moore/Getty

"We don't have any specific date in mind at this moment," said Washington Governor Inslee at a press conference Monday. "I'm glad to have basically a statement of broad principles that will abide across the West Coast."

"I am pleased that we are moving as a region to basic principles that we can be as coordinated as possible," Inslee added.

Newsweek reached out to the offices of the governors of California and Oregon for comment.

California, Oregon and Washington have been under stay-at-home orders since March. Recent data indicated 1,584 positive coronavirus cases reported in Oregon. Washington confirmed 10,530 positive cases and California reported 23,915.

However, all three states have reported a decrease in new coronavirus cases reported, a status known as "flattening the curve." Officials credit residents adhering to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders as a reason for the decrease in cases.

"Physical distancing is working," said Health Services Director for Los Angeles County Christina Ghaly on Friday, "together with the infection control interventions like hand washing and wearing masks, these are the biggest weapons that we have in our arsenal to fight COVID-19. And the efforts are working. They have flattened the curve, they have reduced the peak, they have pushed that peak out into the future."

Ghaly also said that current projections indicate that California's hospital system will be able to effectively manage the number of future coronavirus cases.