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Whitmer's office in talks with Midwest governors on plans to reopen economy

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office is in talks with governors in the Great Lakes region to form a coalition about reopening the economy in Midwest states. 

Whitmer's office confirmed those talks were taking place but had no other details to add. 

It's a topic that's come up in discussions among the legislative quadrant leaders and the governor, Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich said in a telephone town hall Tuesday. 

"So far we've seen great working relationships between our governor, Republican governors in Ohio and Indiana, and the Democratic governor in Illinois," said Ananich, D-Flint. 

The confirmation from Whitmer's office comes as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he was working with his Midwest counterparts to coordinate a plan. 

"I began this conversation really late last week with some of the East Coast governors, and then over the last few days with my counterparts in Midwest states surrounding us," Pritzker said during a press briefing Tuesday, according to NBC 5 Chicago.

Democratic leaders along the West Coast and in the Northeast region announced recently that they were exploring coordinated plans to pull back on stay-home orders and reopen business together, according to the Associated Press

President Donald Trump, who has issued recommendations that people stay home through April 30, maintained on Twitter that he had the authority to reopen business throughout the nation. 

But governors have pushed back on pressure from the White House. 

When asked about Trump's assertion last week, Whitmer said, "The government doesn't get opened up via Twitter. It gets opened up at the state level."

In a Tuesday press briefing in the Rose Garden, Trump at times echoed his claims of authority, but said he would speak with each governor about reopening their economies this week and signaled that he would support any state that decided to maintain stay-home orders past May 1.

"The governors are going to be running their individual states. Some of them will say, 'No, I can’t open now.' And some of them may last longer than we even would think," Trump said. "I’m not going to put any pressure on any governor to open."

The discussions with other Midwest governors come as the state and hospital officials have expressed cautious optimism about what appears to be a leveling off or "flattening" of the curve of new daily coronavirus cases.

As of Tuesday, the state reported 27,001 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,768 deaths.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com