Whitmer in talks on Great Lakes regional strategy to reopen Michigan economy

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer spoke to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker about a joint strategy to reopen the Great Lakes regional economy when the threat of the coronavirus subsides , Crain’s learned.

Pritzker discussed with his peers in the Upper Midwest a coordinated approach to lifting shelter-in-place orders before President Donald Trump makes a national decision that may not reflect regional priorities, Crain’s Chicago Business reported Tuesday.

The governor of Illinois and his chief of staff spoke with Whitmer and his chief of staff JoAnne Huls about a coordinated regional approach to reopen the economies they closed in mid-March to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, they said. confirmed two sources familiar with the discussions. for Crain’s Detroit business.

“The governors I have spoken with have been frankly very positive about this idea,” Pritzker said Tuesday during his daily COVID-19 briefing, according to Chicago Radio Station WBBM. “They have all thought about it individually for their condition and understand that speaking with a common voice can be a positive gesture.”

Pritzker and his office did not name the governors with whom he spoke.

“The governor wants to explore something like what’s happening on the east and west coasts of the Midwest,” Pritzker spokesman Jordan Abudayyeh Recount Crain’s Chicago. “I think our goal is to work together on things like what you do with stay-at-home orders, legal issues, etc.”

The West Coast and Northeast Coast states have worked together on plans to reopen their regional economies in a coordinated fashion.

Senatorial Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said on Tuesday he had suggested to Whitmer that Michigan work in unison with border states such as Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

“I think a lot of these conversations are taking place,” Ananich said in a phone meeting with residents of Genesee County. “They are looking at best practices and how our states are very similar in some ways, how they are very different, what plans are underway.”

Whitmer has extended its stay-at-home order for workers, activities and non-essential travel until April 30.

As confirmed cases of the coronavirus stabilized in Michigan and some other states, Trump has shown an eagerness to reopen the national economy which has been largely halted by the actions of governors like Whitmer, Pritzker and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

But senior federal infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned on Tuesday that the United States did not yet have the critical testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the country’s economy weeks after the coronavirus spread has essentially stopped it, adding a dose of caution to the White House’s increasingly optimistic projections.

“We need to have something in place that is effective and that we can depend on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci told The Associated Press.

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, Whitmer has repeatedly stated that she was in regular contact with Pritzker, DeWine, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, exchanging notes with the governors of the Neighboring states on how to respond to various aspects of the public health threat.

At Holcomb’s press conference on Tuesday, the governor of Indiana said he had discussed with DeWine and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear a regional strategy, according to a transcript from Holcomb’s office.

“We talked, Governor Beshear, Governor DeWine and I talked about when we come to this day, from a regional perspective, reopening or re-entry, what those certain steps might be.” , said Holcomb. “We’re not there yet. But we’ve talked about what that day might be like, and there will be a number of stepped approaches to whether this, then this, if that, then that, but it will depend on the data, not just our hope. “

The Associated Press and freelance journalist Andrew Roth contributed to this report.