Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Thursday that she has joined a partnership with other Midwest states focused on working together to reopen the economy in the region.
The governors include Govs. Mike Dewine from Ohio, Tony Evers from Wisconsin, Tim Walz from Minnesota, J.B. Pritzker from Illinois, Eric Holcomb from Indiana and Andy Besehar from Kentucky.
“We are doing everything we can to protect the people of our states and slow the spread of COVID-19, and we are eager to work together to mitigate the economic crisis this virus has caused in our region,” the governors said in a joint statement. “Here in the Midwest, we are bound by our commitment to our people and the community. We recognize that our economies are all reliant on each other, and we must work together to safely reopen them so hardworking people can get back to work and businesses can get back on their feet.”
The governors said they will examine four sectors of the pandemic to assess if they can open up the economy safely. These sectors include: sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations, enhanced ability to test and trace cases, sufficient health care capacity to handle a influx of cases and best practices for social distancing in the workplace.
“Our number one priority when analyzing when best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens,” they said. “We will make decisions based on facts, science, and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor, and education.”
The states involved in the partnership have more than 81,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project. Michigan has the most cases at 29,263, followed by Illinois at 25,733. All seven states are currently on various stay-at-home orders.
“Phasing in sectors of our economy will be most effective when we work together as a region. This doesn’t mean our economy will reopen all at once, or that every state will take the same steps at the same time,” the governors said. “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. We look forward to working together as one region to tackle this challenge together.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]