News & Politics

West Coast Governors Say We Are Not Close to Restarting the Economy

Image by Ein Kaffee kostet mehr als € 0.55! from Pixabay

This week, after forming a pact to coordinate their response to the coronavirus pandemic, the governors of California, Washington, and Oregon each made statements to the press that indicate they are months, not weeks, away from lifting restrictions on movement, education, and commerce.

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) said stay at home orders could extend through the spring:

Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday that Washington state has “a lot more work to do” in taming the coronavirus before the economy can start to be reopened here.

“We have to remain committed for some period of time to this social distancing strategy,” he said at an afternoon press conference. “It’s a blunt instrument but it is effective.”

Inslee said it’s possible that his stay-home order may be extended past its current expiration date of May 4, and he outlined criteria that must be met before the economy can be restarted.

The first is a steep decrease in the number of coronavirus cases through social distancing, followed by a “fire brigade” capability to quickly test, identify and treat new coronavirus victims at the scale and immediacy necessary, then track down their contacts.

In a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR) gave her expectations for relaxing restrictions:

She broke down her 5 key areas that need to be in place before beginning to reopen portions of the economy:

  • Slow the growth of the disease
  • Supplies of personal protective equipment
  • Capacity to conduct testing
  • Ability to conduct contact tracing/disease tracking
  • Effective program of isolation/quarantine for people who are or may be sick

Gov. Brown said the state faces a dire economic situation, adding that there is a need for further federal assistance.

“The funding that was put in the CARES package cannot be used to replace lost revenue,” Gov. Brown said. “So the challenge for a state like Oregon, because we are an income tax-based state we cannot use that to backfill the money we have lost because I shuttered the economy to stop the spread of the disease and flatten the curve.”

And on Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) announced his plan:

California will need to restructure daily life and dramatically bolster its public health resources in the coming weeks, or possibly months, before it can lift a statewide stay-at-home order meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

Newsom laid out a “road map to recovery” with six factors that he said must be met before restrictions on going to school, doing business and gathering in public can be lifted. They include starting widespread testing that would allow the state to isolate people exposed to the virus and trace people with whom they have come in contact.

But even when the lockdown measures are modified, Newsom warned, life will be “anything but” normal. People might need to wear face coverings in public for months, he said, and mass gatherings could be canceled for the foreseeable future, until the state reaches “herd immunity” — the point at which enough people have been exposed to the virus to prevent its transmission — and scientists develop a vaccine.

That means there could be no major sporting events or concerts in California for the next year or longer.

All three governors made concerted efforts to remind people that the shutdown efforts could last months, not weeks. All three made widespread testing a condition of lifting restrictions – testing which currently doesn’t exist in a widespread quantity. All three made every attempt to condition folks to start to change their expectations, and that this constitutes the new normal. None has any plan to consult with their legislatures, debate public policy in a meaningful way, or get input from any but their most trusted advisors.

All that remains is whether residents of each state will accept this new normal without protest, or begin to demand better from their governors.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at Jeff hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.

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