The governors of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky announced Thursday that they will work in close coordination to reopen the Midwest regional economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came in a news release from Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, sent on behalf of all the participating governors.
"Our number one priority when analyzing when best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens," the governors said in a joint statement.
"We will make decisions based on facts, science, and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor, and education," the statement added.
The governors said they will home in on at least four factors when determining when best to reopen the economy: sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations, enhanced ability to test and trace, sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence and best practices for social distancing in the workplace.
Similar collaborations have been undertaken by governors in recent days on the West and East coasts.
Two of the governors involved in the new group -- Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers -- made announcements on Thursday afternoon that suggest their states are looking toward how to reopen.
DeWine said in a news briefing that he is developing a plan for a new phase of the state's response to coronavirus to start on May 1. Details of the new phase will come in the next few weeks, DeWine said.
He added that talks need to continue with his group of economic advisers and speak with school district superintendents about how to reopen schools and businesses in the state, he said. The plan is to issue new guidance when they determine the best steps to move forward, DeWine said.
Evers, meanwhile, extended his state's stay-at-home order until May 26 but loosened some restrictions on businesses, a statement from the governor's office read.
Golf courses are now allowed to open again, and public libraries and arts and crafts stores may offer curb-side pickup, the announcement said. However, the statement also notes that public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
So hopefully that means getting testing, masks, and ventilators ready for everyone. Accurate mass testing, tracing of outbreaks, and swift movement to limit them are the only way this works.
We'll see what happens, but this is a good sign.