LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Seven Midwestern governors announced Thursday that they will coordinate on reopening their state economies amid the coronavirus pandemic, after similar pacts were made in the Northeast and on the West Coast.
The latest agreement includes Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kentucky.
“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. “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 this week. All together, the 17 states covered by the pacts are home to nearly half of the country’s population.
“Phasing in sectors of our economy will be most effective when we work together as a region,” said the governors, who include five Democrats — Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, Wisconsin’s Tony Evers, Illinois’ J.B. Pritzker, Kentucky’s Andy Beshear — and two Republicans, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Eric Holcomb of Indiana. They stressed it does not mean every state will take the same steps at the same time.
Ohio’s role in the agreement was unclear. A spokesman for DeWine said his comments from Wednesday still stand.
“We have no formal agreements or compacts at this time,” Dan Tierney said Wednesday. But he said DeWine is in regular communication with governors of surrounding states to share information, strategy and resources.
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