(CNSNews.com) - Governors who took responsibility for closing down their state economies "probably have the primary responsibility for opening (them) up," Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Wolf told a teleconference on Monday.
Wolf is one of six Northeastern governors, all Democrats, who are joining together to produce a coordinated reopening strategy for their states.
Organized by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island announced they will each appoint three people from their states to come up with a reopening plan.
Cuomo explained it to reporters:
"Head of economic development is on the council from each state; head health official from each state; and governors' chief of staff from each state. Three people from each state, six states, 18 people.
"And it will be a public health strategy and an economic development strategy. It fits like this. You can't do one without the other. You have to do both."
Cuomo said the six states will be "sharing talent. You're sharing resources," he continued:
The best minds from six states...better than best minds from just any one state, right, by definition. So it will be smarter. It will also be cooperative and collaborative, where if Jersey and Connecticut put forth a plan that is not coordinated with New York, it hurts our compliance.
And remember, we're asking people to do very tough things. If you say, well, you can just go across the river and you have a different set of rules, then people will get in their car. They'll go stay with their brother-in-law who lives in New Jersey, or the brother-in-law who lives in Connecticut, and they have a different set of rules.
His restaurants are open. Our restaurants are closed. You know what happens? Everybody drives to that state to go to dinner. That's all that happens.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said an economic recovery can happen only "on the back of a complete healthcare recovery."
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said she doesn't want to keep people out of work "one day longer than necessary," but the restart has to be done in a way that keeps the elderly and the vulnerable safe:
I have a team here that I've assembled to develop a plan for what we are calling the new normal, and we're looking at everything from how we screen people entering business to how we utilize more touchless technologies in our day-to-day interactions, doing a deep dive industry by industry on new guidelines for this new normal.
And I'm looking forward to this initiative. I'm looking forward to being a part of the working group and exchanging ideas.
Like you have said, we've never--none of us has ever gone through this before. And I am confident that by working together and sharing our best ideas, we--we will be much, much more likely to get it right for the citizens of our state and this region.
I will say, you know, throughout the crisis, the governors are the ones who've been showing great leadership and taking action to keep our residents safe, and so I think it's only appropriate that we do the same thing now by coming together and showing regional leadership to reopen the economy.
Gov. Cuomo said the initiative currently involves just the six states, but "any states who want to join are welcome to join."
The 18-person council will "start talking, literally tomorrow," Cuomo said.
"We didn't start with a timetable. We said, and we'll say to the group, we want it ASAP, but we want it smart. This is about being smart first, not political smart. Follow the data. Learn from the other countries. Other countries have done this. You're seeing mixed information and mixed data. Learn from the other countries, coordinate, set of guidelines, ASAP but smart."
Cuomo said a plan must be produced "within weeks. It has to be within weeks," he repeated.
Three West Coast states, California, Oregon, and Washington, also are joining forces on a reopening plan for their region.