Minnesota is joining a regional pact with five other Midwestern states that will coordinate on reopening their respective economies amid the coronavirus outbreak.
It was announced on Thursday that Gov. Tim Walz has agreed to join the pact along with governors Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Tony Evers (D-Wisconsin), JB Pritzker (D-Illinois), Eric Holcomb (R-Indiana), and Andy Beshear (D-Kentucky).
All seven of these states have some form of Stay at Home order in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Three of Minnesota's other neighbors, the Dakotas and Iowa, do not.
It mirrors similar pacts seen on the East Coast and West Coast, where states have started collaborating their responses to the coronavirus, with Gov. Walz noting at a press briefing this week that he was examining ways of improving regional collaboration, after expressing concern that some of Minnesota's growing testing capacity might be taken by the federal government distributed to other areas nationwide.
"It appears that that's the model we're taking now, sort of a loose articles of confederation approach with some of the states gathering together," he said.
The Midwestern states have said they will take a "fact-based, data-driven approach" to reopening economies amid COVID-19 enforced shutdowns.
In a joint statement, the governors said:
"We are doing everything we can to protect the people of our states and slow the spread of COVID-19, and we are eager to work together to mitigate the economic crisis this virus has caused in our region.
"Here in the Midwest, we are bound by our commitment to our people and the community. 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.
Today, we are announcing that Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky will work in close coordination to reopen our economies in a way that prioritizes our workers’ health. We look forward to working with experts and taking a fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protect families from the spread of COVID-19.
"Our number one priority when analyzing when best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens. We will make decisions based on facts, science, and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor, and education."
The governors say they will determine when best to reopen the economy based on four factors:
- 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.
Despite each governor facing calls from some to reopen economies despite coronavirus cases continuing to grow, they have each cautioned that while they will phase in sectors when appropriate, it "doesn’t mean our economy will reopen all at once, or that every state will take the same steps at the same time."
"But close coordination will ensure we get this right," they added. "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."