Whitmer, 6 ‘Midwest’ govs working together to reopen economies

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives an update on COVID-19 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and six other state governors in the Midwest — or thereabout — are consulting and coordinating with each other on plans to reopen the region’s economy in the coming weeks.

    Whitmer, a Democrat, is in communication with GOP governors Mike DeWine in Ohio and Eric Holcomb of Indiana, as well as Democratic governors Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Andy Beshear of Kentucky. Their goal: Find a way to reopen the region’s economy in controlled increments after they closed businesses, schools and restaurants to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

    “Today, we are announcing that [we] will work in close coordination to reopen our economies in a way that prioritizes our workers’ health,” the seven leaders said in a news release. “We look forward to working with experts and taking a fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protect families from the spread of COVID-19.”

    Four factors will be considered by the governors as they make plans to re-open states following the pandemic. The first priority in making those decisions is considering “the health and safety of our citizens,” the governors said.

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    “We will make decisions based on facts, science and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor and education,” they said.

    Getting the rate of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations under control, increasing testing, maintaining stable hospital capacity and continuing social distancing are the four factors the governors will analyze before they reopen anything.

    “Phasing in” different segments of industries is something they’re also considering. They added the Midwest’s economy is likely to not reopen all at once; nor will every state follow the same pathway to reopening.

    “But close coordination will ensure we get this right. Over time, people will go back to work, restaurants will reopen, and things will go back to normal,” the governors said. “We look forward to working together as one region to tackle this challenge together.”

    C.J. Moore
    C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.