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California, Oregon and Washington announce western states pact (ca.gov)
209 points by khartig on April 13, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 300 comments

Also relevant is that the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware made a similar pact today.

Edit: Massachusetts has also joined this pact as well (I thought it was surprising that it hadn't when I first read the news).

If only there was some sort of multi-state organization through which individual states could pull together on issues spanning multiple states. Such a "federal" approach would be very useful. If only someone had thought of this years ago. Of course it would have to be staffed by people selected and respected by all, but surely there is some way of doing that too.

It would be especially good if that kind of organization had limited and agreed-to powers that were written down in some sort of document, and then those constraints were respected and not repeatedly gamed around.

Surely any document is just as smart and wise as the people interpreting it. (Are we back to square one or do we have to go through Internet fueled partisan hyper-polarization and "big data" aided gerrymandering? Oh, yes, we need to vacant a seat on the Council of the Interpreters and mysteriously leave it empty and let the winner of the aforementioned social-media campaign pick the next interpreter!)

I mentioned the Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois consortium the other day. Theirs was formed to solidify buying power. These are looking analogous to the relationship between cities and and a county. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22835488

You can roughly see where you would expect these to form on this map. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaregions_of_the_United_Stat...

MA joined in as well on that pact

No Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts? I would think at least Massachusetts would want in.

MA joined the pact as well, now.

Governor Baker is a Republican and Trump is big on “loyalty” and deference. Since the pact is a way for the Governors to collectively let Trump know who will actually be “restarting” the states I would guess the short delay in Massachusetts joining was so Baker could sort out the politics ahead of time with DC.

Baker (and Hogan, for that matter) are very popular Republican governors in pretty deep blue states. They haven't been big on kissing Trump's ass, both before and during this crisis.

Yes, I’m about as liberal as they come and I voted for Baker in the last election. Being well-liked on both sides of the aisle doesn’t happen by accident. Baker puts in considerable planning and effort to make that happen.

Yeah MA has a habit of that, e.g. Mitt Romney, who is also vocally critical of the POTUS.

As someone who lives in one of these states, I'm nonplussed at the announcement. It doesn't really seem to say anything concrete that I can tell.

"We've agreed that we will use metrics...we are still deciding what these metrics will be."

I thought the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order (in Washington state) wasn't unreasonable and wasn't just political babble, but I don't really know what to make of this piece. Anyone want to try to explain it like I'm five?

I think this is a polite way of these states saying that they're not going to follow any 'national plan to reopen the economy' put out by the White House.

Exactly right. One of the rules of the game is that you're not allowed to say anything negative about Donald Trump even if (perhaps especially if) it is factually correct. If you do, he will retaliate (by, for example, withholding badly needed aid). So the governors have to speak in code.

Listen to Newsome's news conference today and the answer he gave to a reporter about his reaction to Trump's announcement that the decision to re-open the economy is his (Trump's) alone. It's a masterpiece.

> If you do, he will retaliate (by, for example, withholding badly needed aid)

Has this actually occurred?

I know NY asked for way more ventilators than they got, but as I understood it they were giving them out "just in time" rather than up front in case they were needed more elsewhere.

There are also lots of reports of confiscations of PPE:




I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but this smells real bad to me. The reports of confiscations are coming from democratic states, not republican states. And it seems like republican lobbyists are getting into the game of distributing PPE:


What it seems to me is happening is a coordinated yet amateurish attempt to restrict the PPE flow to/within democratic states, while allowing the free flow of PPE in republican states. This allows some lobbyists to make money off of it, as well as sticking a finger in the eye of dem leaders (and dying people/healthcare workers in dem states).

> https://www.firehouse.com/safety-health/ppe/news/21133559/fe...

On the other hand, does the fire department for a town of 27,000 people really need 30,000 gowns, or could those be put to better use elsewhere?

Yes, it was withheld for several days for Michigan:


Yes. Early in the outbreak, several of the western states including Washington asked for full FEMA aid but received nothing except some disaster counseling aid, while Florida received huge shipments of medical supplies. Trump as much as said he was waiting for Governor Jay Inslee of Washington to say something nice about him before opening up aid to Washington, which is unconscionable.

We seem to be doing just fine here without the Federal Government. In fact we've sent 400 ventilators back to the national stockpile and we also returned the Army hospital that was established at Safeco Field back because we didn't need the capacity. Trump did eventually authorize FEMA to pay for the National Guard response here.

It isn't only about who it is withheld from, it is who is favored and given to.

Florida, where President Trump moved his residence to and who's governor he enjoys a special relationship with, has had greater success than other states in requesting and receiving allocations from the federal stockpile: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/despe...

> you're not allowed to say anything negative about Donald Trump

Have you used Internet or watched American TV in last five years?

Let me be more precise: if you're a Republican politician or a civil servant you are not allowed to say anything negative about Trump and hope to keep your job. If you are a Democratic politician you are not allowed to say anything negative about Trump without risking the loss of federal money and resources that you would otherwise receive.

Anyone else is, of course, free to say whatever they want. (For the time being.)

I don't know for sure, but I wonder if the Republican governor of a state like Massachusetts feels that way. He might get more votes if he spoke against Trump than if he didn't.

He would lose to a Trump-supported Republican primary challenger.

He might. Not this year, though - the 2020 Massachusetts primary is history. And four years from now, will Trump care enough to support a primary challenger? Will Republicans care what gubernatorial candidate Trump supports?

I mean, I guess if your ambition is to hold office for decades, then you might be concerned. But the downside seems minimal to me. (But then, I'm neither in politics nor in Massachusetts, so what do I know?)

My ELI5 interpretation: “Since good leadership is probably not going to come from the President, we’re going to create our own “mini-country” and provide good leadership within it.”

Instead of "mini-country", I would call just call it a group of united states.

>a group of united states.

Pardon, English being my 2nd language, would it be a confederation or a union?

Probably depends on whether or not there are articles involved.

You mean a 'mini-alliance' right? Because the 10th amendment has made the states 'mini-countries' since 1787.

Yep, I agree that's a key point. It's easy to confuse big picture language with "nothing concrete" but a lot had to happen behind the scenes before this ever went to press. I'm personally optimistic because of this under-appreciated factor among many others.

My brother lives in Oregon.

He was complaining to me the other day that Oregon's requirement that you are not allowed to pump your own gas is an obvious COVID transmission vector.

To get gas in Oregon, he follows these steps:

1.) pull up to gas station 2.) Roll down window to hand attendant (who isn't wearing a mask, nor is required to) his debit card. 3.) Get card back from attendant. 4.) Sanitize the debit card 5.) Sanitize his hands 6.) Hope that the attendant is washing his hands, and that he didn't breathe COVID onto him through the open window.

Not saying this isn't a great, noble effort.

Just saying that, in some aspects, these states aren't doing a good job on obvious things within their own borders.

Why the hell is Oregon still doing this, and not requiring masks from gas attendants anyway? Maybe it is required, but my brother told me he has yet to have an attendant wearing a mask, so possibly not enforced???

Oregon has already lifted the restriction on pumping your own gas, for exactly this reason.

Add "not allowed to pump your own gas" to the list of "things that are completely unnecessary and stupid that have been removed because of COVID-19 and never need to come back".

It’s a job creation/protection play, like grocery stores where the union won’t allow self-checkout. No idea if the law is achieving its goals or if it just exists because of historical inertia now, but that’s why it exists.

Where are there checkout clerk unions blocking self-check out? Not saying it's impossible, but I've lived in WA, CA, VA, DC, TX, and NY, plus 1.5 years in Australia, and going on 6 years in Canada and have consistently seen self check-out everywhere.

Oh, I know why it exists (I grew up in New Jersey, which has [had?] similar laws); I'm just reiterating that it exists for stupid reasons.

Just wondering, is this article out of date?


Have they further loosened it since late March?

"Effective immediately, gas stations will be allowed to let drivers pump their own gas if they meet any of the following requirements:

The owner (of the gas station) retains documentation that there are no employees available to work as an attendant, including documentation for absences and employee hiring and retention efforts; The owner is subject to State Fire Marshal audit and has posted safety signs for how to safely operate a fuel pump; and The hours of operation under this subsection do not exceed 10 consecutive hours. “During this unprecedented time of state emergency, we need to ensure that critical supply lines for fuels and other basic services remain uninterrupted,” said State Fire Marshal Jim Walker.

Additionally, active stations must abide by the Fire Marshal’s latest guidelines:

Prepare, implement and enforce social distancing policies consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, Require an attendant to be on duty to supervise self-service refueling consistent with the social distancing policies and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through sanitization measures, and Designate an employee at each station to implement and enforce the social distancing policies."

The above doesn't seem like it's actually self-service unless the owner has certain issues. My brother just told me he isn't seeing self-service at his area, and wasn't notified it was an option.

I wonder if New Jersey has done the same ..

When pumping your own gas, you touch a pump handle and card reader that have been handled by hundreds of other people in the last few hours. Is that any better?

You can use disposable gloves and you aren't interacting directly with someone who may do something like cough on you.

I would say "Definitely yes."

I drove through oregon a while back for the eclipse for the first time ever. I'd already filled my tank a quarter of the way by the time the attendant came out and yelled at me. I was so confused.

Seen something similar at Walmart. An attendant at the self-checkout area was wiping down the scanners but wasn't wiping the keypad.

I'm curious: Was that the law before the pandemic? If so, couldn't the pandemic be a good reason to campaign to change the law so Oregonians can pump their own gas?

That law hasn't changed because it's essentially a jobs program. They did retcon equal access for the disabled / elderly in there, but the ADA covers it well enough for every other state.

It's also part of the reason you can't buy liquor at a grocery store in Oregon. If we really need more pointless jobs, I'd rather the state just hire some people to dig holes and fill them back up. At least everybody else wouldn't be inconvenienced that way.

People aren’t trained to operate a gas pump. That’s what they told me last time I visited Oregon.

They must have some very complicated gas pumps in Oregon, much more complicated than the pumps used in nearly every other US state... ;)

For all they know I could be a Certified Petrol Pump Master™.

Presumably the different colored belts (Pump Master Black Belt, etc.) let you pump different grades -- or diesel.

I think you're correct, but the announcement is still welcome. People are gonna be waiting forever for any semblance of federal guidance, so at least these 3 states has decided they'll make calls together.

In this case, I would be vastly more comfortable if the answer were "No, Doreen, you really are as dumb as you think. Their plan is 1... 2.... 3...."

The US governmental system has a long history of injecting bureaucratic nonsense that takes on a life of its own and ends up with outcomes like "teaching to the test" instead of being a net benefit.

I would feel differently if this were an announcement of a joint task force for sharing data to help each state make the best decisions possible. But this sounds to me like it will just make it harder for each state to make a decision on their own and that it probably doesn't really add any value. And that concerns me.

It means these states will together decide when to reopen. A task force would provide that bureaucratic waste. What is the advantage of Oregon having more data to decide to reopen a week before California. The value of them standing together gives poltical shielding against a national government. They speak for the entire west coast. I wonder if other regions will do the same. Mountain states, Northern states, the South as a group wouldn't do this which would group them by subtraction.

It almost sounds like we three states are preparing for some kind of federal intervention in our politics if we continue social distancing after Trump orders our states to reopen.

Yeah, this falls far short of what these states should be saying, something like "We're feverishly working on building out the infrastructure for wide-scale population testing and tracing, but we will not lift shelter-in-place until we're confident the infrastructure is in place in all three states to contain any outbreaks".

I have the same beef with Mayor Breed in San Francisco, who has otherwise shown standout leadership. She's publicly worried that people will let their guard done by assuming things are under control. Rather than worry about people's feelings and opinions, she should be setting expectations exactly as I described above.

I was just talking to someone yesterday about impaired vasodilation as a possible explanation for why people are dying at such high rates on ventilators. I'm hopeful that we will soon have some better treatments in place that will make this infection less deadly and thus less of a boogeyman.

I guess it's significant that the three states have agreed in principle that they'll act together rather than each do their own thing. Maybe they can also be more ambitious in terms of testing and contact tracing by collaborating. They might also be able to collaborate in buying PPE and ventilators and so on rather than bidding against each other.

The context here is that Trump said earlier today that he was in charge of when to "open up the states."

This (along with the NE pact) is probably a big "no, you're not" to Trump.

NE pact article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/nyregion/coronavirus-new-...


Asked whether the collaboration among the states was a rebuke to the President Trump, who has said the decision about businesses reopening was his to make, Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said only that he was focused on making decisions based on facts and science, and he reiterated that an economic recovery was inextricable from a public health recovery.

Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania echoed Mr. Murphy’s comments in responding to a similar question.

“The sequence,” Mr. Wolf said, “is you’ve got to get people healthy first, and then you can reopen the economy.”

Interviewed later on CNN, Mr. Cuomo was more pointed in his remarks on who bears responsibility for restoring life to something like normal.

Trump administration officials, the governor said, could have enacted a nationwide shutdown to stem the spread of the virus.

“They didn’t,” he said. “They said we’re going to leave it to the states. Now all of a sudden when it comes time to open the economy, now it’s back to the federal government’s responsibility?”


Ah, thank you. That actually makes some sense and is heartening.

Three concrete takeaways that are new to me, as an Oregonian:

* Nursing homes, long-term care facilities, etc. will get some priority and focus.

* Socioeconomically-disadvantaged communities are taking indirect impacts from mitigation measures, and they will also get some priority and focus.

* We will not return to anything resembling normal until we have a way to efficiently test, track, and isolate at scale.

> nonplussed

It seems nonplussed has two, almost contradictory definitions:

1. (of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.

2. (of a person) not disconcerted; unperturbed.

The latter is an "informal" definition. This seems to be the process by which the word awful switched from meaning awe-inspiring to the opposite.


unsure about what to say, think, or do : perplexed

chiefly US : not bothered, surprised, or impressed by something

I'm an American. "Not impressed" is the closest thing I am seeing to what I was trying to convey. Unmoved might be a good substitute word in this case.

I'm an American, too. It's funny that those Merriam-Webster definitions are so mild. I've always "known" nonplussed to indicate a fairly extreme state, like gobsmacked.

I quoted definitions from Google's search snippet.

It's essentially saying that the governors of these three states aren't going to follow what Trump orders them to do unless the medical professionals and the state emergency management teams give the go-ahead.

Trump has been downplaying the seriousness of the disaster since January. He contradicts the statements of his own staff in the same press conference as the staff speaks. He exuberantly proclaims the effectiveness of "treatments" that haven't been studied in any serious way. All this is to say that we can't trust any decision he makes.

Contrast this with the way the Western governors have handled this. Inslee was one of the first governors to announce any kind of Social Distancing rules. And he followed Illinois in issuing a statewide Stay Home order that is probably the most restrictive such order in the states. There's a lot of evidence on the Washington DOH website that this is working and the spread of the disease is under control.

The fact is that Trump's response is mostly to bury the problem and apply wishful thinking when he can't bury the problem. The governors in this union are taking a facts-based approach to solving the problem that has largely been successful. And so it's a really bad idea to do anything that Trump advises the country to do because he has a track record of making really bad decisions throughout this crisis.

Possibly relevant:

> President Trump tweeted Monday that the "decision to open up the states" following shutdown measures taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus lies with him, not governors.


Is this me or does this someone who wants control but not responsibility?

It's really someone who wants to own the success of others and blame others for failures. Zero accountability yet still wanting to call the shots.

Ah, and the flipside that many of us are familiar with - all the responsibility, none of the authority to fix it. Great recipe for burning down entire companies and driving away talent.

You're not the only one who has had the same immediate take.

Ironically Trump refused to "shutdown" the States a decision he deferred to the Governors.

Yes, he wanted to dodge responsibility for the unpleasant job of shutting things down. Now he wants to enjoy positive publicity for opening things back up.

He wanted to shut down travel from China in January, something he got reamed for politically by the media and the left. Damned if you do and all that.

That is one tiny step in response to a crisis that requires dozens of quick, bold steps. If he gets one point for decisive action and 20 points for delaying, deferring, muddling and contradicting, how much credit has he really earned?

He let who knows how many Americans back in from China without testing or quarantining them. Not much of a travel ban.

Quarantining is a fancy word for arrest, with zero cause. There were no "tests" at the time.

And finally, thankfully, it is illegal to refuse an American citizen entry to the United States.

A quarantine wouldn't be refusing entry; entry is allowed, but then you must remain isolated for a certain period of time.

> Quarantining is a fancy word for arrest, with zero cause.

I just don't know what to do with statements like these. If you truly believe that there is never any grounds for a health-related quarantine, then I don't think you're going to be able to have a productive discussion on this with most people here; your fundamental beliefs are just too far outside the norm (and outside reality, but that's another issue).

The cruise ship evacuees were involuntarily quarantined on military bases.

Quarantine in America is not new. https://www.lawfareblog.com/long-history-coercive-health-res...

Federal Law

Under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264), the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states.

CDC’s Role

Under 42 Code of Federal Regulations parts 70 and 71, CDC is authorized to detain, medically examine, and release persons arriving into the United States and traveling between states who are suspected of carrying these communicable diseases.

As part of its federal authority, CDC routinely monitors persons arriving at U.S. land border crossings and passengers and crew arriving at U.S. ports of entry for signs or symptoms of communicable diseases.

When alerted about an ill passenger or crew member by the pilot of a plane or captain of a ship, CDC may detain passengers and crew as necessary to investigate whether the cause of the illness on board is a communicable disease.

State, Local, and Tribal Law

States have police power functions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons within their borders. To control the spread of disease within their borders, states have laws to enforce the use of isolation and quarantine. In some states, local health authorities implement state law. In most states, breaking a quarantine order is a criminal misdemeanor.

>Quarantining is a fancy word for arrest, with zero cause.

There is probable cause. You probably have the virus. Spreading it around is negligent manslaughter. This court sentences you to two weeks in a hotel.

That's not quite right. Quarantine is a kind of civil detention. You have habeus corpus rights but you aren't accused of a crime and the probable cause standard doesn't apply. There's a standard- it's not zilch- but it's not the same as criminal detention.

I'm not able to find examples of that. Can you point to any mainstream media outlets "reaming" him over that decision?

Not the person you're replying to, but here are a few examples.

CNN: "Experts say travel restrictions the Trump administration put in place to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading could have unintended consequences that undermine that effort." (https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/07/health/coronavirus-travel-ban...)

The Atlantic: "Guiding Trump’s response is a hardheaded nationalism... Critics from WHO and elsewhere have said the bans are unnecessary and could generate a racist backlash against Chinese people." (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/02/trump-r...)

Also, travelers from Italy and Spain have been able to enter quite freely.

Yeah, the west coast's virus outbreak is primarily traced to European sources, the bigger east coast one probably more so (but idk the data to support that). The China travel ban was not an effective measure of control, and experts knew that it wouldn't be. So either (1) whoever did it didn't listen to their experts or (2) it was intended to punish China, not as an effective measure of control.

They actually didn't though. The only thing I can find negative on Trump's travel ban is an independent opinion piece on NyT:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/opinion/china-travel-coro... (2/5/20)

And even then, the criticism was of the form:

> Valid arguments may exist for shutting down the world to travelers originating in China — and shutting down China to the world — as a reasonable public health response. But the World Health Organization explicitly did not advise that any restriction of trade or travel was necessary when it declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern last week, and it still doesn’t. Instead, it has called for exit screening in international airports and domestic hubs in China.

What Trump did get a lot of flack on was travel banning countries like Nigeria at the same time, completely unrelated to the coronavirus:


Trump and his supporters have made up much of this narrative on their own without any actual action on the left, e.g. see:


If you have watched any of the daily Coronavirus Task Force Press Briefings you will no doubt have heard Trump championing "If I didn’t do that, we would’ve had hundreds of thousands more people dying"...

To my understanding the ban only stopped direct flights from China. In other words flights to china were still able to travel everywhere else in the World and then from those layovers the Chinese were still able to fly into the US indirectly.

The virus made its way to US anyway and when it got out of hand the healthcare system was overwhelmed, the economy shutdown, supply chains broke down, we reached essentially 20% unemployment overnight...so I am not sure how his decision saved lives, it seems to me, his travel ban only delayed the virus...so assuming the travel ban wasn't put in place it seems to me the virus would have just been on our radar sooner and we would have done the same poor reactive responses. In other words, from the time of the ban in January to Trumps "15 days to slow the spread" how many test kits were ordered? How many N95 masks were ordered? How many ventilators? How much PPE? What did Trump do to prepare for the virus and save lives beyond travel bans, because it seems our healthcare systems were not prepared/supplied nor was FEMA prepared and mobilized until March.

Can you explain how his ban saved lives as opposed to delayed the virus?

Can you provide any source for criticism from the left on this decision? I only found this:

> Although Democratic leaders and Democratic presidential candidates have been highly critical of Trump’s response to the coronavirus, we couldn’t find any examples of them directly and clearly criticizing the travel restrictions.

[0]: https://www.factcheck.org/2020/03/the-facts-on-trumps-travel...

Ya, much of this controversy seems to have been made up by the right. Typical gas lighting, funny thing is I remember none of this actually happening at the time, banning travel china was mostly non-controversial outside of a niche. Maybe twitter?

My Twitter timeline was full of people claiming xenophobia and racism for most of February and some of March, some with claims he was distracting from his impeachment.

There was a coordinated effort by some jouralists to smear Trump as xenophobic and racist for what he was trying to do. Today they're saying he didn't do enough. There were many stories that were essentially down playing the virus and dog whistling to readers about Trump being a racist/xenophobic for his early actions.

Edit: added video showing the media downplaying COVID-19 at late as March 3rd [3].





No, he wanted to avoid being called a dictator for shutting things down.

I'm not sure why this is downvoted, as it is correct.


Honest question: did Trump have the legal authority to shutdown the states even if he wanted to? I thought this decision was always up to the governors themselves, and that the federal government didn't have any authority to ask for a shut down within each state.

If the President has no legal authority to shutdown the states, he has no legal authority to restrain opening them up either.

Yes, that is my thinking also.

I think what's probably more relevant is the chaos of trying to get aid from the federal government, combined with Trump and Kushner's declaration that any national stockpile is for the federal government, not the states, even though nobody lives in the federal government, we all live in states or similar entities.

I think they flipped the fuckit bit.

Stay at home is doing enormous economic damage, which indirectly will cause more deaths through decimated budgets of social and health programs. Especially in CA where high progressive taxation amplifies the impact of recessions.

So there's a lot of pressure to reopen but no political cover to do so. I think the entire point of this pact is to provide that cover.

This paper by two federal reserve economists argues that that "Pandemics Depress the Economy" more than the measures to stop them. It's a false dichotomy. The alternative to "Stay at home" is not a thriving economy, but a depressed one. https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2020/03/fight-... https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=3561560

> which indirectly will cause more deaths through decimated budgets of social and health programs.

Do you have any actual data for this?

Unless you're arguing the budgets won't be cut or frozen, the data is the success metrics of those programs.

You're saying that cutting (meaning reducing, not zeroing) budgets of social and health programs can kill up to 0.5% of the entire population of a state? Because that's the CFR of the virus.

You're aware that even programs on reduced budgets can offer a reduced set of services, and prioritize the ones with most impact? (i.e. most lifesaving potential). And that their work will be far easier if there are fewer total sick people in the system? Have you balanced the effects of that versus letting the virus run amok so that the tax receipts aren't impacted?

That's why I'm asking for numbers. Otherwise "a bad economy will kill more people" is a fuzzy assertion that sounds "cool" and "contrarian" but has no actual substance.

Here are my numbers btw:

"Our finding that all-cause mortality decreased during the Great Recession is consistent with previous studies. Some categories of cause-specific mortality, notably cardiovascular disease, also follow this pattern, and are more pronounced for certain gender and age groups. Our study also suggests that the recent recession contributed to the growth in deaths from overdoses of prescription drugs in working-age adults in metropolitan areas. Additional research investigating the mechanisms underlying the health consequences of macroeconomic conditions is warranted."[1]

In the last big recession, deaths due to certain causes went up but overall mortality decreased. So what you're saying definitively did not happen in the only other comparable situation.


> You're saying that cutting (meaning reducing, not zeroing) budgets of social and health programs can kill up to 0.5% of the entire population of a state? Because that's the CFR of the virus.

I'm not saying that, but I could have been more clear.

The Great Recession is not a great comparison to a continued lockdown scenario, unemployment peaked at 10% while current reports are putting us already at ~14% and rising. The recession reduced demand but didn't wipe out sectors, nor did it cascade nearly as fast. Heart attacks and traffic fatalities will go down as the studies show.

I don't think I'm being contrarian, these pacts were setup to provide the political cover necessary for those qualified to make the call. My prediction is CA/OR/WA reopen on roughly the same schedule as everyone else, with just slight stricter restrictions. Such as quarantining the sick, isolating the high-risk, and other measures to bring the CFR down.

Right on the nose.

Even when reopening is clearly the right thing to do nobody will want to personally take the fall. It's the reason the US has a high incarceration rate, nobody wants to be the one to release a ton of people from jail even if it's the right thing to do.

I love the United States' flexible decentralized model. Different states have sufficient autonomy to tinker and try different approaches, allowing the best ideas to emerge from the collective. It's one reason why the US is such a dynamic place, similar to Europe but with the additional benefit of unified language, culture (broadly), economy, and high level regulations.

It's truly a great system.

It's not necessarily as flexible as to encompass such sub-federal cooperation: "No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_One_of_the_United_Stat...

I'm curious if these recently announced state pacts will be challenged in court. But legal or illegal, it doesn't excuse the poor job of federal management.

States make pacts all the time, without federal congressional oversight.


In Virgina v Tennessee, in 1893, the Supreme Court allows states to make compacts in all matters reserved to the states and the enforcement of which does not encumber federal rights.

And for the most part, at the consent of Congress, states keep armies and air forces (and many keep navies) as guaranteed by the second amendment.

At this point in time though, who's to say the courts won't just let the commerce clause creep in its scope? It'll be pretty easy to argue that these lockdowns interfere with interstate commerce.

That would prevent any such pact from being legally binding on the states. It doesn't necessarily prevent states from coordinating at all.

Exactly, this seems like an friendly handshake agreement to cooperate with an official name and press release.

OTOH, pacts like the popular vote compact signed by some states in the past few years is almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is it? They're each deciding, independently, to handle their electors in a certain fashion. They each have the right to independently change that decision, without any penalty for doing so. It's not a binding agreement with another state in any fashion.

> OTOH, pacts like the popular vote compact signed by some states in the past few years is almost certainly unconstitutional.

Why would that be the case? Electors are not bound by any particular (federal) rules in how they cast their votes. If we look at the popular vote compact as a friendly handshake agreement (to which electors are not legally bound), they are free to fulfill the handshake agreement and vote along with the national popular vote.

Of course, if a signatory decides last-minute to betray that agreement, there perhaps would be no legal remedy.

AFAIU whether the agreement is expressly legally binding is not dispositive. See, e.g., https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution-conan/article-1/sec.... Thus even if it's likely to pass muster (and I'm sure it was drafted with that in mind) there still could be colorable arguments that permit a legitimate challenge, especially if politically expedient. But I'm not that familiar with this area of law so I welcome corrections accompanied with citations.

These kinds of pacts between States to coordinate on specific issues that are under of the umbrella of their sovereignty are quite common and perfectly legal. The whole point of sovereignty is that they have the freedom to deal with the issue as they wish as long as it doesn't abrogate one of the narrow powers delegated to the Federal government, such as this case. There are even pacts between States to coordinate action directly against Federal policy e.g. the Sagebrush Rebellion.

In other cases where the Federal government does have jurisdiction, such as interstate treaties regarding shared resource rights, the Federal government can delegate the issue to a group of affected States to sort out amongst themselves e.g. the Colorado River Compact of 1922.

Yes, I'm curious about the way they're intending to handling this legally as well. A bit of searching shows a Supreme Court case Virginia v. Tennessee, 148 U.S. 503 (1893) [1]. This restricts the application of that clause somewhat, but it isn't 100% clear to me that this Pact is a perfect match for the facts in that case.

It also sounds like [2] things are rather flexible in what approval is and when it is obtained. It's plausible that they expect to ask for approval, or rely on it being unlikely that congress explicitly disapproves, or perhaps they expect to obtain approval in the future.

[note: I've linked to a point in the opinion discussing Congressional approval]

1: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=103881997639573...

2: https://www.gsgp.org/media/1313/understanding_interstate_com...

I would imagine this is like the AASHTO or the UCC lobbying groups where the agreements don't force any states to do anything, the states just independently do the same thing together. And in some cases like with the UCC they don't even do that.

> or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay

It'd be nice to think that the largest pandemic of the last century would allow for this, but given the current supreme court bench I guess I wouldn't really bet on it

> unless actually invaded

I mean, Trump is calling himself a "Wartime President"[1]. And the virus technically is on American soil....

[1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/22/us/politics/coronavirus-t...

His insistence on calling it the "chinese virus" was a very intentional move to frame it as the work of a foreign power, even if he never explicitly said it was made in a chinese laboratory. Plenty of conspiracy theorists did though (some of them on national TV).

It is a great system, but our founding fathers encouraged us to continually tinker with it :) It is never perfect. Remember, they were rebels !

Err... you know, these states are taking about autonomy because the United States now has one third of the world's COVID19 patients...

Yeah ... it's a great system unless you live in a part of the country that is not trying a smart approach; a place where "best ideas" are routinely dismissed as partisan politics.

Is it, though? Run your states the way you want to. Maybe your comrades in Texas prefer a running economy to lives. This is a good thing that you can make that choice.

I don’t see how not having states would change that.

We have a federal government that has the power to take action. Republicans are stopping that from happening and so some states are choosing to fix it for themselves.

You get what you vote for.

In this case it works well. In other areas...

In any sufficiently high dimensional system with resource constraints it's inevitable there will be tradeoffs. Or more simply, no system is perfect.

From article 1, section 10 of the U.S. Constitution:

"No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay."

This scares me a bit. This agreement seems innocuous at first, but the constitution expressly forbids these (and all) kinds of agreements between states for a reason. A small pact like this today could tomorrow become leverage for secessionism or otherwise a power struggle with the federal government.

Certain agreements are definitely allowed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_compact

Of note: "Not all compacts between states require explicit Congressional approval – the 1893 Supreme Court decision in Virginia v. Tennessee affirmed that only those agreements which would increase the power of states at the expense of the federal government required it."

I'm not claiming that this pact is formally one of these "interstate compacts", but your maximalist reading of that article forbidding "all kinds of agreements" seems to be incorrect.

I would think they have wiggle room with "or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay."

"State" in that context clearly refers to foreign nations (states) not states as in The United States Of America. Foreign power is distinct because it would refer to things like governments-in-exile or perhaps resistance groups.

Why would they use two different meanings of "State" (capitalized, no less) in the same sentence?

> No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

It seems to me that it states “with another State”, as in a capital S State or a member State of the United States. Then explicitly calls out as another option, “or with a foreign power”.

Furthermore, the title of Article I, Section 10 of the US Constitution is “Powers Prohibited of States”.

Then why would the constitution forbid a foreign nation (state) from entering into an agreement with another foreign power?

In my area (Vancouver Island, just north of this "pact") we are seeing something very odd. People are going out. Families are having BBQs in local parks. Restaurants aren't letting people dine in, but the grocery stores are operating essentially normally. I'm near the water and am seeing kayaks and boats out like any normal weekend. Vacation properties are in use. RV parks have customers. I see groups of old people chatting on the street like normal.

I think we are on a tipping point. Government directive or no, people are coming out of isolation. I don't think the local authorities have much choice at this point. Either they make some clear changes and/or issue timetables, or they risk loosing any control. These are Canadians, a people with national healthcare and a general respect for government authority. When this attitude hits America, a country that prides itself on individualism, things may move from lockdown to "what lockdown?" in a matter of days.

Because people realize that kayaking isn’t a risk so why would they avoid it? This is why no restrictions should be imposed that don’t have a very clear and obvious effect. If that means they must rely on people’s ability to do the right thing (e.g not take the bus to go kayaking, not go places where it’s crowded) then so be it. It’s better to have a sustainable and accepted lockdown that is 95% water tight, than an unsustainable and less accepted lockdown. Otherwise, as you say, once people stop accepting the lockdowns anyway.

We are told not to travel unless necessary. Kayaking is never necessary. The Canadian military, the people responsible for search and rescue over HUGE areas, are themselves locked into extraordinary isolation measures. Many are living far from loved ones specifically to maintain operational readiness for real national emergencies. They aren't going to be very happy if they have to break isolation to rescue a kayak party too bored to stay home when asked so to do by their government.

So you kayak in a lake within swimming distance of shore. This is the thing: people need to be trusted to do the right thing. What we want to avoid wasn’t people kayaking but people requiring rescue. That should just work by asking it of people.

Talk to any first responder. Playing around near shore results in plenty of calls. It isn't just the big helicopter that pulls people off icebergs. A needless ambulance callout, followed by a kid sitting in hospital with a badly broken bone, is exactly the sort of thing we need to avoid. Doing anything recreational on the water is to be avoided.

There is a horse farm near my house. They are curtailing riding as much as possible specifically because they know that riding horses can be dangerous, especially for kids. They don't want any trips to hospital right now.

Any policy that relies on everyone to just “do the right thing” is not going to be effective in the USA. We’ve seen this for the last month. People are not voluntarily doing the right thing. People think they are being cool and edgy by ignoring. Or they think everything is a media conspiracy. Or they simply value “muh freedum” more than the lives of their loved ones.

These Stay At Home “orders” are pointless because there is no enforcement. They might as well be called Stay At Home suggestions.

New Zealand has banned any sports where someone could require emergency services: so no sea sports, no mountain sports, no hunting etc. This is in addition to other restrictions.

Everybody is too busy to help, and helping rescue others puts the rescuers at risk of Covid.

> Health outcomes and science – not politics – will guide these decisions.

And I definitely promise you that my news organization will have no bias or slant, and will only report facts.

Yes. I love this from an executive-action standpoint. They are _doing_ something about something, in the face of a lot of fearful messaging. And that gives the rest of us an even better "emotional/energy vector" which is based on a promise of government support and action in support of business.

We are participants in the most creative and powerful world economy of all time. Regardless of geographical location, cultures are generally more unified and geared toward working together than ever. Markets have shown an impressive amount of resilience in the face of unprecedented fear messaging. People are ready to work hard; in fact they're wearing themselves out by working harder than they have before in many cases.

This is exactly the kind of action we need right now.

I'm a little disturbed that I feel like the country has been tearing apart for a while. There is a major political bifurcation, and now pacts between states. Right now the pacts are for the pandemic, but what else might these coalitions be used for in the future? I'm not saying that they'll be used for some nafarious purpose, but the fact that they are like-minded politically makes it more likely to deepen the divides.

Because, Conservatives have completely lost their minds. If they want to commit to a suicide run to try and sustain the market then competent states have the imperative to not follow them into the abyss. You have to remember, each state is tasked with the welfare of their citizenry, not the furtherance of the political ambitions of a federal administrator.

I'm not sure what your point is. Are you saying "good riddance, let's just split the country in a few pieces and get it over with"? Or do you see some path toward unifying the two factions again?

I guess you could reasonably say that groups with different political allegiances should just split up. But what's weird about that to me is it's basically like the states' rights platform, sans Constitution.

I have yet to see a cogent validation of the total lives saved by lockdown when considering all other health impacts such as suicide rates from isolation, heart disease/stroke/diabetes from extra sedentary lifestyle etc.

not to mention the suicide by fentanyl in a subsequent economic recession/depression.

Any aware of such an analysis?

I'm generally worried about this sort of thing as well, and wish people were looking into this.

However, we have pretty good estimates on how many people will die if we don't shelter and isolate, and I think that trumps what would inevitably be some very vague guesses as to how many people might die as side effects of sheltering and isolation.

And regardless, many of those potential deaths could be preventable with the right focus on mental health and financial support during and after the lockdown. (Not saying we do have the right focus; I expect we definitely don't. But that's not a reason to give up on isolation.)

> we have pretty good estimates on how many people will die if we don't shelter and isolate

This is a fantastic point/rebuttal and has helped shift my perspective somewhat. We can do things about tomorrow's suicides, heart attacks and diabetes later, though not too too much later.

Right, I think it's a "one thing at a time" sort of situation. Like: we have a clear problem with a potential solution that will mitigate the problem immediately. That solution may create other problems, but we do have some time (though, as you suggest, not a lot) to try to fix that up after dealing with the first problem.

It all depends on how the return to normalcy happens and how much support is present. Things like the fentanyl epidemic were already present and ignored; the opportunity is here to take it into account during the recovery. Hopefully some of the states will do that and make money available.

The pandemic is eroding the idea that sickness and poverty are moral failings. It that sticks the benefits will be huge.

Oh, and there has been the first month without a school shooting since 2002. Another epidemic controlled by staying at home.

Here's one:

https://www.pandemiceconomist.com/2020/04/costs-and-benefits... TL;DR (copied directly from the post):

With these values, if a lockdown of two years or less will stop the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a good idea. With the current research into treatments and vaccines and the development of testing and tracing strategies, I believe that there will be a medical or public health way to stop the pandemic in less than two years. Notably, the net benefit of a decision to initiate or sustain lockdown goes up over time, because the time remaining until medical countermeasures are available keeps going down.

That analysis strikes me as being very shallow. With that style of analysis, you could come up with whatever result you wanted.

Covid mainly kills older people, so you can’t use an “average” value of a life when calculating costs. I would also expect some discussion on the effects upon the economy of the death of a lot of retirees.

Disclaimer: I’m not an economist.

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

What's the end game here?

If you slow the spread, and then reopen, it'll spread again. Nothing will have changed, you'll just have delayed it a bit.

If you read the announcement:

> Ensuring an ability to care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This will require adequate hospital surge capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment.

Delaying it is the point, it ensures we have enough hospital capacity and PPE to handle the inevitable burst of cases when reopening. This is what people mean when they say "flatten the curve". If we simply open whenever and aren't prepared we'll have a massive spike in cases that exceeds hospital capacity, vs the current situation where the case growth is slower and hospitals are less burdened.

At the current rate of infection that plan will require many years of quarantine. We need more people exposed, not fewer.

That assumes no investment in upgrading our hospital capacity and testing & PPE production.

At one end of the spectrum you have (mythically) infinite hospital capacity and staffing, testing capacity, and contact tracing ability. In that world, you reopen everything, and let people go about their lives.

At current capacity, we need to slow things down. If we can increase capacity enough in the coming weeks and months, we'll need to slow things down much less.

Things were quite bad but they've improved rapidly over the past weeks and months.

Hospitals have actually, counter-intuitively, seen a reduction in usage. The number of hospitalizations has been far lower than expected (~20% of IHME's modeled values) and when combined with the fact that non-COVID patients have been avoiding hospitals (even for serious emergencies like heart attacks and strokes!), many are reporting entire wards being completely unused according to reports from medical professionals on Twitter, Facebook, and r/medicine.

Also, 150,000 test results are coming in every day. That's 5x the per-capita testing rate of South Korea (~5,000 tests per day) and while we certainly can and should increase testing dramatically, the US is actually doing pretty well on testing relative to global numbers.

South Korea has excess testing capacity: https://thediplomat.com/2020/04/south-korea-ramps-up-exports...

So far they have done 500000 tests, but they got started early, and controlled their outbreak much better. In recent news the US just bought 600000 tests from South Korea.

“The South Korean companies behind the kits are now churning out enough to test at least 135,000 people per day. The stabilizing situation at home has enabled these firms to export more of this extra capacity.”

Are you volunteering?

Yes, I am willing to go about my regular life and risk contracting SARS-CoV-2, and I wouldn't visit any at risk friends or family in person while doing so.

Just let everyone get it. Problem solved.

Yes, that is the end goal. It's the timeline over which everyone gets it that matters.

Regardless of how sad a situation this reflects, I regard it at least as a positive sign of some resilience of our federal structure.

Criticize the state/federal model though you might for how it sometimes dilutes the ability to get things done in a unified way, at least in times of national or federal-level dysfunction, the people who can step in locally to provide some guidance and coordination are able to do so, and not actually be stymied or prevented from doing so by some authoritarian framework.

Imagine instead if we lived in a country with more organized / powerful central control, but was both authoritative and incompetent. We would be really fucked.

I'm in Oregon.

My first read: CTRL-F for "test" to see if there's any new statement on serological testing. Nothing.

This is all we want right now. This is the first priority, and whatever is second is somewhat distant.

Not having widespread serological testing to understand the prevalence in our communities really gives a feeling of being in a third-world country.

It's awesome that Drs. Bhattacharya and Bendavid have pushed the Stanford study forward (hopefully we have results this week). But seriously, there's no excuse for not having already done a round of random testing in every city, several times.

Serological testing is really bleeding edge still. It’s only done as part of research projects as far as I heard, and you can’t really buy the capacity to do it on an industrial scale yet. Perhaps this varies between countries (where manufacturers exist and so on) but many countries in Europe still have few or no serological tests done, and we are weeks ahead of the US in terms of the epidemic progress.

Yeah, that's the point right there. Why the heck is this so bleeding edge? A small team at Stanford made it happen rather quickly. With a small budget.

And yet our leaders aren't even talking about it. Where's the will to do this obvious first priority?

Naive question: how is this better than each of these states doing its own thing (even if those things end up looking similar)? What does California gain by teaming up with WA and OR, for example?

Look at the Netherlands and Belgium screaming at each other and threatening to close borders because one felt the other had too little restrictions.

Let’s just say it’s very much bad for your neighborhood of states to have that kind of situation. Closing borders or having diplomatic disasters isn’t worth it. It’s better to reach a common decision.

I'd rather everyone close their borders for now (except for cargo and essential travel, with testing/quarantine) and countries/states/regions respond however they see fit for their own populations. The regions with the best responses can be examples for the others to follow.

Better coordination between the states helps reduce chaos at the borders between the states. If OR opens a week before WA the people living near the border will be in a weird limbo, especially if they need to cross the border for work etc.

Floreat Cascadia!

This was my thought as well. It is a desirable incremental move toward a regional definition of statehood.

For those unfamiliar, Cascadia is an independence movement around the NW bioregion of the United States: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia_(independence_movemen...

Edit to add more info:

While many Pacific NW folks are not familiar with Cascadia as an independence movement, fans of the Portland, Oregon soccer (football) team Portland Timbers often carry or fly the Cascadia independence movement's flag during games. Shown on the right side of this giant tifo:


Not to be pedantic or anything but Cascadia definitely doesn’t include California. Nuh-uh, no way José, no siree.

Since Cascadia does not exist, compromise to include northern California is possible. The proposed Pacific State Jefferson would likely join a successful independent Cascadia if only to have easier succession to its own state down the line.

Regardless, this can be seen as a shot in the arm toward Casacadia because it is a demonstration of cross-state regional cooperation that would be necessary to further an independence movement.

Ya but I feel that California, Oregon and Washington are bound but many unique and common cultural ideals. Tech, ecology, etc. I live in Seattle and there is a lot of fun rivalry but if I didn't live here it would be Bay area, Portland, San Diego, LA, etc. The West Coast has a special culture in my view.

It’s the economic core of Cascadia. It’s a necessary thing.

Kind of like saying that the US is the “economic core” of Canada.

How do you figure?

Our flag will be a towering wave!

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia_subduction_zone


They should do a shared healthcare system as well. The future is states working together on their own thing, while letting chudland sink further into poverty.

I’m surprised they didn’t include Nevada given how much of California’s population travels to Nevada.

Meanwhile, 7 northeastern states are forming a "multi-state council"

Some historians go as early as 2020 and see the "Western States Pact" as the first establishing document for the Pacific Union and the beginning of the unraveling of the USA.

Nt Rly though.

This is great, and it's a big chunk of population, but I keep feeling like we could do better. For example, these three States could do a great job, but there's nothing stopping a bunch of the other States from bungling it (like, say, ignoring health experts and exempting certain groups from mass gathering restrictions). Then those States end up exporting infectious individuals into the States which are doing things right, and creating more clusters.

If only we had some sort of united group of all the States, where the response could be coordinated and centralized for maximum effectiveness.

> If only we had some sort of united group of all the States, where the response could be coordinated and centralized for maximum effectiveness.

We do! It's called the United States government. I'll be letting the president know you're interested in him taking over and using his own ideas, instead of this one you seem to be particularly fond of.

Or, if that idea is slightly terrifying for you, perhaps it's a better idea that the states are handling this themselves. Your state conglomeration thing can always decide to use the National Guard to prevent outside travelers.

> Your state conglomeration thing can always decide to use the National Guard to prevent outside travelers.

The National Guard serves a dual role. Most of the time, it’s under the control of individual states, with the state governor acting as commander in chief. However, the president can activate the National Guard and place it under federal control. When this occurs, guard units are used to supplement the regular Army, bolstering its forces with additional combat units. [1]

1. https://science.howstuffworks.com/national-guard.htm

Well, if the federal government blocks you from using the NG to protect your states, then perhaps your state should... I don't know. Form a militia, and protect itself! Perhaps it could even seize the equipment from the National Guard in a mini-revolution!

It's almost like the constitution was written to enable these things to happen, and prevent a corrupt and/or inept leader from forcing a one-size-fits-all solution on the nation!

What do you mean by outside travelers? do you mean people from other states, or from outside the country? If you mean from other states, then they are legally barred from doing that.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_movement_under_Unit...

States cannot discriminate against people from other states on the sole reason that they are from some other state.

Now... (I believe) they could use the National Guard to do wellness checks to make sure people don't have a fever, and potentially get them to quarantine, but it would have to be applied without regard to what state their license says. Though, the legality of forcing quarantine varies by state.

I may be wrong, but I think you missed OP's point. I took his tongue-in-cheek "If only we had some sort of united group of all the States" comment to mean if only we had a president who exercised his influence to encourage this type of coordinated response versus what he's done up to this point, which is nearly the opposite of coordinated.

You have no idea how crazy you sound as a European lol, the most straightforward way to put it is you're using an anonymous account on a website to dunk on someone in the comments section for implying they may care about avoiding infection during a pandemic

> You have no idea how crazy you sound as a European

Europe, a group of many independent states, trying different approaches to a common problem, with an over-arching bureaucracy to coordinate between them... and the US approach sounds crazy to you?

You're comparing apples to oranges. Europe is comprised of sovereign states which can and actually have closed their borders. From my understanding, but correct me if I'm wrong, this would be a legal and political nightmare in the US right?

Edit: not endorsing parent comment

As a European I’d think you’d appreciate the point he’s making. This is analogous to Spain and Portugal deciding on a joint Iberian policy between the two of them instead of trying to go to the EU and haggle it out with Hungary and Sweden.

Well, he'd appreciate your point ever more had the tenant of the WH been someone who can actually read pages with letters instead of watching tv 12 hours a day.

> you're using an anonymous account on a website to dunk on someone

I enjoy that you are making this point from the username "anoncareer0212"

I have no idea how that's the conclusion you drew from GP, can you elaborate?

"Like having a pool with a 'peeing section'" is how I've read this piecemeal approach described.

Well when our federal government basically screws the pooch it's up to individual states to work together to limit the spread. And since most of the state governments seem to not really care about the health of their citizens, it makes sense that there would be small groups of states that do. Honestly I assumed that if the outbreak got really bad the PNW would eventually secede from the union because the federal government wasn't providing much aid. But this is a lot better than that.

Yours is obviously just an analogy and I'm not making claims as far as the underlying argument, but we did used to have smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants, airplanes, etc. Clearly that was reasonable enough to people to be the way things were done for a few decades. Sometimes an 80% solution that seems almost comically flawed ends up being useful.

You could easily smell the smoke coming out of the 'smoking section'.

This is kind of like that, but you could die.

I imagine it more like 3 people standing in the furthest corner from the person peeing because the lifeguard isn't enforcing any rules except "no one can leave the pool".

Or a restaurant with a smoking section. Right next to the non-smoking section.

If other states don't do a good enough job at controlling their outbreaks, it is maybe, potentially legal to close our borders to residents from those states in order to control spread. https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Coronavirus-FAQ-...

I'm fairly certain that Constitutional speaking "interstate commerce" can only be regulated by the federal government. The free movement of people may not be commerce per se, but it is inextricably linked.

In realpolitik terms, I doubt the federal government can stop this. What are they going to do? Send the army to force states to accept potentially infected people? That's basically an order to go kill your countrymen. I'd hope, given such an order, much of the military would defect.

The states also have their own well-equipped militias (National Guard). The U.S. Army can't just roll in and occupy a state if the state does not want it to - they will have to wage a war. Not at all politically acceptable.

With sufficient testing capabilities, closing the borders might not be necessary. Instead, test at the borders (and airports) and impose a mandatory quarantine on any infected individuals.

"California's got another Flu blockade up this week."

Your fears are very valid because we have already seen (prior to this formal coalition) the varying responses of states. Regarding your last sentence: I think there was a united group of all of the states waiting for central command and assistance which never truly materialized and now we have the states working together in the void.

> If only we had some sort of united group of all the States, where the response could be coordinated and centralized for maximum effectiveness.

We do, however by design that body does not have authoritarian control over things like 'shelter at home' regulations.


> Under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264), the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states.

Nothing stops them from encouraging states, either. (We did this with speed limits, as an example. Want Federal highway funds? Play ball with the Feds.) Florida's Governor justified not issuing a stay-at-home order based on the White House not having asked him to.


Ok, but what do you do when said authority is hellbent on forcing people back to work and reopening the economy when your local metrics show that would be a really bad idea? While the Federal Government may have the ability to restrict the states, I don't see any avenue where they can legally prohibit local/statewide restrictions that are stronger than Federal rules.

Perhaps through "encouragement" but that still leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

Shelter at home is very different from controlling interstate travel. I agree on the latter point.

Not too dissimilar from the EU approach. There doesn't appear to be an EU-level coordination. The member states have open borders between them, I.e. the proverbial "peeing sections", and Italy's disastrous outbreak hasn't seemed to spread into Germany, Austria, Denmark, etc.

Centralization requires buy-in, and after at some point it becomes clear that sitting around waiting for other states to play ball can be equally disastrous.

Perhaps it allows them to begin to open borders between each other, but keep borders to other states closed? If those three states' economies are very interlinked it might let them get closer to normality.

Legally, is this possible in the US?

In Australia for example each state has closed or is controlling their borders with each other, and this seems to largely be a decision for each state (I don't think there's a federal law either way). I could imagine some states choosing to open up while others remain closed. Or if two states made big sacrifices but got the issue under control, while the others lagged behind, those two could open borders between themselves while remaining closed outside.

Legally, is this possible in the US?

Great question.

The Constitution is very clear that ultimate authority about Interstate Commerce belongs to Congress. States cannot bar travel from other states.

HOWEVER there is legislation enabling states to impose quarantines on people coming from other states. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/10/travel/coronavirus-us-tra... has information about such quarantine rules currently in place.

So stop travel, no. Make it difficult, we're going to see a lot of that.

> Legally, is this possible in the US?

What in the US is legal has changed radically in the last three years.

Any particular areas? The churn of law in the US is vast, ex: taxes.

I am surprised that most commenters so far have completely missed the hilarious sarcasm in “some sort of united group of all the states”.

It seems like you've essentially given up on the idea of freedom and separation of powers. Perhaps that would yield a better pandemic response (though that depends on the competency of the federal government), but I'm not sure it's worth the cost.

We're talking about forcibly keeping everyone in the country out of church. It's pretty disturbing to give that power to government, even temporarily. How long before it gets applied to other situations after the pandemic dies down?

What's to stop the president in 2030 from saying: "We're facing an epidemic of terrorism by [whoever] so we're keeping them from gathering in public."

Or: "There's an epidemic of [some crime] that uses the internet. We need to control it."

Well, this Western States Pact is a result of lack of leadership at the White House and federal level. They feel the US government is not doing enough, so they took the matter into their own hands.

So what are the issues with the Federal Government response? I often hear people criticize it, without any concrete examples





There is a concrete example of the Federal government seizing PPE, Ventilators ordered by the states. Then only giving them 20% of what they ordered.

Its basically legal theft.

On phone so can't link now.

1. Ignored the pandemic response playbook. This document was prepared after the SARS outbreak and contained all the lesson s learned.

2. Reckless public statements. Calling the virus "no worse than a flu" and "a hoax" certainly caused people to not take it seriously and helped it to spread. Pushing the hrdroxocloriquine study before the research was conclusive has gotten people killed.

3. Depriving states of essential resources. Massachusetts not only had their request for masks denied, but also paid for their own masks only to have them seized for the "federal stockpile". In the end the governor had to get masks smuggled in on the New England Patriots private jet.

4. When New York projected it would run out of ventilators in 6 days, their request was denied on the grounds that Trump felt 30k ventilators was too big a number.

5. The emergency production act (or whatever it's called) could have been invoked at any time to address the ppe shortage. Afaik it hasn't been.

There was a piece on NPR today looking at the things the President announced they were going to do a month ago when he declared a state of emergency, and where we stand now on those things [1].

[1] https://www.npr.org/2020/04/13/832797592/a-month-after-emerg...

Concrete examples.

Early in office, Trump got rid of the department created by Obama to respond to pandemics.

Early in this epidemic, we bungled getting testing out. Got it out in broken form. Had to get it out again. All the while we turned down an effective test advocated by the WHO. And when testing existed, had rules that tested so little that they missed the existence of community spread until it was well established.

Blocked private labs from developing and conducting tests. (Community spread was demonstrated by one who broke the federal rules. The reaction of the Trump administration was to come down on them for having conducted unauthorized tests.)

Well after it was clear that this was a pandemic that was not under control, Trump was spinning a narrative of this being no big deal.

Failed to declare a federal emergency and social distancing restrictions at a national level. Which caused a patchwork of inconsistent responses at the state level. California was in lockdown while COVID-19 was happily spreading among tourists on crowded Florida beaches.

I could go on. But right now the USA has 1/4 of all deaths worldwide from COVID-19. We are stilly dying faster, and didn't get there by accident.

Wasn't the issues with the initial tests that there weren't accurate and their simply weren't enough to go around? As far as disbanding the Pandemic team, it's not really true, there was a shuffling of who was in charge of it. It was finally transferred to the Vice President. As far as I can tell, the FDA approved an emergency policy to Help Expedite the Availability of Diagnostics on Feb 19th. The US probably has more contact with China due to trade/travel than most other countries. I don't believe the numbers from China, they are sure to be way higher than they report. I don't think the Federal Government really has the ability to shut down a states beaches that aren't Federally managed.

Wasn't the issues with the initial tests that there weren't accurate and their simply weren't enough to go around?

The USA shipped out tests after other countries, and with a faulty reagent that caused false positives. Causing labs that should have been able to do their own tests to have to ship samples to an overwhelmed CDC. See https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/03/05/905484/why-the-c... for verification.

The CDC promised new tests, but they took weeks to arrive. In the meantime federal bureaucracy roadblocked the development of independent tests. Finally the Seattle Flu study went and ahead and tested...only to find that COVID-19 had community spread for several weeks in that testing vacuum. You can verify that at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/10/us/coronavirus-testing-de....

As far as disbanding the Pandemic team, it's not really true, there was a shuffling of who was in charge of it. It was finally transferred to the Vice President.

Let's go for a fuller version: https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-trump-fired-pan...

Long story short, a number of people were let go, what was left was moved around in the bureaucracy, the political leadership left in charge claims that it still works, but the people left and other politicians claim that it was hamstrung.

Given that the US response has been so weak, it it questionable whether it operated at all effectively.

As far as I can tell, the FDA approved an emergency policy to Help Expedite the Availability of Diagnostics on Feb 19th.

Yes, at which point they created a bureaucratic nightmare for the approval process. As the NY Times article outlines, the lab that actually found community spread was NOT able to get through the approval process.

The US probably has more contact with China due to trade/travel than most other countries. I don't believe the numbers from China, they are sure to be way higher than they report.

Yes, the USA has a lot of travel. You are far from alone in not believing China. However there is no reason to believe that they are lying about having effectively shut down the virus. (Even the social distancing we are doing here seems to be working, and China was a lot more extreme.)

I don't think the Federal Government really has the ability to shut down a states beaches that aren't Federally managed.

Never underestimate the reach of the Commerce Clause. The President's ability to declare quarantines and apply them to whomever for whatever reason is extreme.

I don't know the limits for sure. But I doubt that he would have had less ability to act than various governors have had.

Have you been following the coverage? There are a lot of mixed messages (opening the economy by Easter, no I mean May, no I mean ASAP), lots of misinformation that contradicts the medical consensus (Trump pushing hydroxychloroquine as if he's the drug's spokesperson), a lot of half actions (Trump invokes Defense Production Act, but then refuses to use it), and blatant lies ("anyone who wants a test can get one"), multiple task forces being set up with vague responsibilities (first Pence, then Kushner).

The unwillingness to call for a nationwide lockdown is also a big one that has angered a lot of governors. And just today Trump tweeted that he has the authority to end lockdowns, which is a blatant lie.

So yeah, the response hasn't been great.

Trump actually did use the DPA to order GM to produce medical ventilators. Because a car company will have no problem retooling all of their factories to pump out medical devices. I believe that just taught all the CEOs of companies like GM that they shouldn't offer to do a damn thing publicly before they've already got a program in place.

This is as opposed to ordering one of the several companies in the US who already make medical ventilators to simply make more ventilators.

You are joking, right?

Just one example:

The US federal government waited until mid-March to order N95 respirators: https://apnews.com/090600c299a8cf07f5b44d92534856bc

Other governments acted much more quickly, for example Australia started doing so on February 7: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2...

The US government, in particular Trump, is responsible for this delayed response.

This is all 100% political. The only reason they are doing this is to preempt President Trump's announcement tomorrow about the formation of a committee to get this going. Anytime they say it's not political, that is 100% what it is.

I am afraid it is, but I do not see that much of an incentive for a Governor to keep their State shut-down when it does not have to.

May be its posturing or may be its not.

I think the interests of White House and Governors are more in line than not.

Time will tell.

Then again, that one group of states would become a Single Point of Failure.

If that centralized and coordinated leadership is incompetent and/or corrupt, there is no Plan B.

Except that in a federal system like the United States each individual state government can mount a real response like we've done in Washington where the epidemiological curve has flattened significantly in the past 3 or 4 weeks versus where it was heading before we began social distancing.

Sure there is. The Western States Pact is the plan B.

That's my point :)

I'm arguing letting the central federal government handle everything.

Sorry I got hung up on "there is no plan B". I prefer we have a coordinated response here as well (plan A). That's not happening so the "plan B" is states working together.

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