Midwest Governors Announce Partnership to Coordinate Reopening Economies

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
April 17, 2020Updated: April 17, 2020

A bipartisan group of governors from seven states announced on April 16 that they would form a Midwest regional partnership to coordinate efforts to reopen their states’ economies amid the CCP virus pandemic.

The partnership will see the governors exchanging expert data and advice to reopen their economies in a way that “prioritizes our workers’ health,” the governors said in a statement Thursday.

It includes Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-Ill.), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-Ind.), Gov. Andy Beshear (D-Ky.), Gov. Tony Evers (D-Wis.) and Gov. Tim Walz (D-Minn.).

“We look forward to working with experts and taking a fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protects families from the spread of COVID-19,” the governors said in a statement. “Our No. 1 priority when analyzing when [is] best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens.”

The Midwestern alliance joins pacts on the West Coast and in the Northeast that were announced earlier this week. Altogether, the 17 states covered by the partnerships are home to nearly half the country’s population.

“Phasing in sectors of our economy will be most effective when we work together as a region,” the governors said. They emphasized that the partnership does not translate to all seven states reopening their economies at once, or every state taking the same steps simultaneously.

“But close coordination will ensure we get this right,” they continued.

“We are eager to work together to mitigate the economic crisis this virus has caused in our region,” the governors said. “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 would decide when best to reopen their states’ economies based on at least four factors, including;

  • sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations,
  • enhanced ability to test and trace, sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence,
  • best practices for social distancing in the workplace.

“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,” the statement concludes.

The announcement came just before President Donald Trump unveiled 3-phase guidelines for governors to reopen their states during the White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing.

“Our team of experts agrees we can start the next front in our war, which we are calling ‘Opening Up America Again.’ And that is what we are doing, opening up our country,” he said. “We have to do that.”

Trump said the decisions are based on the latest data.

“Our experts say the curve has flattened, and the peak in new cases is behind us,” the president said. “Nationwide, more than 850 counties—or nearly 30 percent—have reported no new case in the last seven days.”

The new guidelines aim at clearing the way for an easing of restrictions in areas with a low transmission rate of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus while keeping them in place in harder-hit locations.

Places with declining infections and robust testing would begin a 3-phase gradual reopening of businesses and schools, with each phase lasting at least 14 days, meant to ensure that the virus outbreak doesn’t accelerate again.

The United States has over 671,000 CCP virus cases and 33,286 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Allen Zhong and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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