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The states have agreed to work together on reopening economies and lifting stay home orders.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Oregon joins Washington and California in western state pact for reopening state economies.Washington, Oregon and California have agreed to work together on a shared approach to re-opening their economies and controlling the spread of COVID-19, the states' governors announced Monday, April 13.

The so-called Western States Pact doesn't take the place of state-by-state planning, the governors said in a joint statement. However, the three states will co-develop a "West Coast framework" based on common principles, they said.

"Our states must work together because the impacts of this public health crisis do not stop at the state border," said Charles Boyle, press secretary for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

According to the statement, the three states will adhere to three guidelines when making decisions regarding COVID-19. States will prioritize residents' health, allow decisions regarding stay-at-home orders to be made based on health impacts and science, and collaborate for an agreed-upon approach.

The statement also detailed four goals public health officials are to focus on for controlling the spread of the virus:

• Protecting vulnerable populations by concerting efforts to fighting outbreaks in long-term care facilities and nursing homes.

• Ensuring hospitals are equipped to care for those who become infected with COVID-19.

• Mitigating non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities.

• Working to develop a system for testing, tracking and isolating cases of COVID-19 so that general distancing policies can be relaxed.

Public health experts warn that if people stop adhering to social distancing guidelines, cases of COVID-19 will once again rise rapidly. Countries like South Korea and Singapore have effectively controlled COVID-19 outbreaks with rigorous testing, tracing and isolating that the United States has not yet been able to replicate.

Boyle indicated the end of social distancing policies in Oregon will not happen abruptly or all at once.

"We will only reopen Oregon if the data shows we can do so without jeopardizing public health," Boyle said.

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