In a conference call with the press this morning, governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey announced a common set of rules limiting public gathering. In all three states, restaurants cannot offer in-house dining. Bars, movie theaters, gyms, and casinos are closed. Public gatherings are limited to 50 people.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the regional agreement is unique in the United States, but critically needed.
"This is a virus that knows no borders," said Governor Ned Lamont. He pointed to examples overseas where "strong social distancing" measures "flattened the curve" of infections.
"We're going to get through this, assuming we all do our part," said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. "The work is up to all of us."
Governor Murphy has taken additional steps in New Jersey. Non-essential travel from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am, he said, "is strongly discouraged." He also ordered non-essential businesses to close each day by 8:00 pm.
Mr. Murphy said a "limited list" of essential business that can remain open after 8:00 includes grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices, and gas stations. During the day, businesses must adhere to the maximum-50 rule and ensure that social distancing is practiced.
"We are badly outgunned"
All three governors were sharply critical of federal efforts, with Governor Lamont saying the federal government "has been asleep at the switch." All three expressed deep concern about the ability of healthcare providers in their states to deal with an expected surge of COVID-19 infections.
"We're going to have a real problem when these cases hit their apex and descend on the healthcare system, and we will not have enough hospital beds," said Governor Cuomo.
Mr. Cuomo said he has called on the president to send in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build temporary healthcare capacity.
In addition to expanded testing capability, Governor Murphy said New Jersey needs personal protection equipment for emergency responders.
"We're going to need hospital beds," said Governor Lamont. "We are woefully short as a region and a country in terms of being able to take care of folks, especially if this surge comes the way we expect it. Even if we are able to flatten the curve in the most optimistic way, we are badly outgunned."
Stay at home, economic help needed
"If you have any options at all, stay home," said Mr. Lamont. "If you're over 60 or 70, stay home. If your grandchild wants to visit you, stay home and learn how to FaceTime."
The governors agreed that federal help will be required to rebuild the economies of their states. Governor Lamont said "we're thinking long and hard," about how to help local restaurants survive, and encouraged the purchase of gift certificates.