Whitmer, Midwest governors plan 'coordination' on reopening economy

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and six other Midwest governors say they will work "in close coordination" in deciding how to reopen the region's economy after shuttering many businesses to stem the spread of COVID-19.

In a Thursday press release, the governors of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin — five Democrats and two Republicans — said they would work with experts and take "a fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way" that protects families."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks about the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan during a press conference in Lansing on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

But they also cautioned that the coordination doesn't mean the economy will "reopen all at once" or all the states "will take the same steps at the same time."

In determining when best to reopen their respective economies, the governors said they will consider the rate of new infections and hospitalizations, the ability to test and trace cases, health care capacity and best practices for social distancing in workplaces.

Phasing in sectors of the economy will be "most effective when we work together as a region," the governors said.

"Our No. 1 priority when analyzing when best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens," their statement said. "We will make decisions based on facts, science and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor, and education."

The statement by the governors came hours after new data showed that more than 1 million Michigan residents have filed for unemployment since the state confirmed its first COVID-19 cases on March 10. President Donald Trump also plans Thursday to unveil his administration's plan for reopening the economy in coordination with the nation's 50 governors.

Nationally, 21.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last four weeks.

In addition to Whitmer, two Republicans — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb — and four Democrats — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, Minnesota Gov Tim Walz, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear — joined in the Thursday statement.