NJ Joins Northeast Coalition to Coordinate Reopening Six State Economies


The governors of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island announce plans to coordinate bringing their states back online in the wake of the pandemic.

By Matt Skoufalos | April 13, 2020

NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo provides a coronavirus update during a press conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo).

UPDATE: April 13, 2020 – 5:15 p.m. — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says his state will join the coalition, too.

Citing a desire to safely return to work when the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic subsides, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island will coordinate a regional plan for reopening their economies.

The governors of all six states announced their coalition Monday, and are “still talking to other states,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Each governor will designate a public health official, an economic development official, and a chief of staff to begin developing their plans.

All will share resources in pursuit of a structure “that is consistent, if not complementary, from one state to another,” Cuomo said.

“State boundaries mean very little to this virus,” Cuomo said. “Addressing public health and the economy have to happen at once.

“You are subject to what any surrounding state does anyway,” he said. “To the extent you can avoid contradictory policies, that’s better.”

The governor of New York said cases in his state appear to have plateaued, but that without “a smart plan” for getting people back to work, the painful work of the past month could be undone quickly.

In New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy insisted that “an economic recovery only occurs on the back of a complete healthcare recovery.

“If the protocols for one side of the Hudson are different from those on the other, or across the Delaware… the consequences could be grave,” Murphy said. “This is the fight of our lives. Reopening ourselves back up will be equally challenging.

NJ Governor Phil Murphy – COVID-19 Briefing, 4-11-20. Credit: NJ Pen.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont spoke about the impact of bringing “a tristate workforce” back to work safely.

“All of our pandemic here in Connecticut is all along that I-95 metro corridor,” Lamont said.

“We have hundreds of thousands of people going back and forth between New York and Connecticut.

“It’s a commuter corridor, but it’s also the COVID corridor,” Lamont said.

Any resurgence of the virus “would be so demoralizing for our economy” if it were brought back online too soon, he said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said that the joint plan will “show our people that we indeed do have a future.

“As we figure out how we’re going to reopen our schools, our businesses, and our homes, we’re also going to figure out how to restore a sense of hope that this pandemic has taken away from us,” Wolf said.

“I think we’re going to show the people of the United States how you come out of something like this in a responsible fashion.”

Delaware Governor John Carney pointed out that the back end of the crisis may present more difficult decisions than those that manifested at its outset.

“Our economies are connected; our states are connected in a real way,” Carney said.

“Our working together, sharing our information and intelligence, will help each of us make better decisions,” he said.

View from the top of the Ben Franklin Bridge connecting PA and NJ. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said the country will emerge from the pandemic to a “new normal,” and that “by working together and sharing our best ideas, we will be much, much more likely to get it right for the citizens of our states and this region.”

It’s unlikely that all states will share “a fully common strategy,” Cuomo said, underscoring that the regional coalition is a makeshift solution to a problem that state governments still don’t have the resources to solve themselves.

“States don’t have the [COVID-19]  testing capacity, and they can’t gather it themselves,” he said.

No governor offered any guesses as to how the economy would be reopening, or which sectors would be the first to return to action, but Cuomo offered a handful of remarks about the process.

“[If]  you want to turn the valve a lot, schools have to be open,” Cuomo said. “You have to have the transportation system open. That would be the starting point for the conversation.

“That’s what this group has to discuss, and then each state would have a strategy,” he said. “Hopefully, they’re not inconsistent.”

Read our ongoing round-up of COVID-19 coverage here.

Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, or try our Direct Dispatch text alerts.


Comments are closed.