Governors of west coast and northeastern states formed working groups to coordinate the reopening of the economy on Monday.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is leading the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Massachusetts in working together to develop a plan to reopen businesses, schools, and transportation.
Cuomo said that each state would have a health official, an economic official, and each governor’s chief of staff included in the working group.
Cuomo said the officials would “study the data, study the research, study the experience of other countries, and give us guidelines and parameters to go forward.”
“Let’s be smart and let’s be cooperative and let’s learn from one another,” Cuomo said.
The governors of California, Washington, and Oregon also formed their own coalition.
“COVID-19 has preyed upon our interconnectedness,” the three governors said in a statement. “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.”
Trump claims “total” authority:
As governors work to form their own plans, after being the ones who closed their economies when the federal government refused to act, President Trump declared that he, not the states, have the ultimate decision-making power on when to reopen.
“When somebody‘s president of the United States, the authority is total,“ he claimed. “And that’s the way it’s got to be. It‘s total. It’s total. And the governors know that.“
“If some states refused to open, I would like to see that person run for election,” he continued. “They are going to open.”
“We are going to write up papers on this. It's not going to be necessary, because the governors need us one way or the other because ultimately it comes with the federal government,” he added. “That being said, we are getting along very well with the governors and I feel very certain that there won‘t be a problem.”
Cuomo pushes back:
Cuomo hit out at Trump’s comments in an interview with MSNBC.
"The only ways this situation gets worse is if the president creates a constitutional crisis," he said. "If he says to me, 'I declare it open,' and that is a public health risk or it's reckless with the welfare of the people of my state, I will oppose it. And then we will have a constitutional crisis like you haven't seen in decades, where states tell the federal government, 'We're not going to follow your order.' It would be terrible for this country. It would be terrible for this president."
“If he thinks he's going to force this state, or any state for that matter, to do something that is reckless or irresponsible, that could endanger human life, literally, because we don't reopen correctly, you will see those virus numbers go up again, and more people will die,” he added.