Kentucky among 7 states in one of three “reopening” pacts

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LANSING, Mich. (WTVQ) – Seven Midwestern governors, including Kentucky’s, announced Thursday that they will coordinate on reopening their state economies, after similar pacts were made earlier this week in the Northeast and on the West Coast.

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear  announced he was working with Governors Eric Holcomb of Indiana and Mike DeWine of Ohio.

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Thursday’s announcement covers Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

“”This is a phased-in approach to do in a way we make sure the steps we take are having a bigger output and reward,” Beshear said Thursday evening during his daily update. “We are working with our neighbors doing the right thing by our neighbors.

He said he’d not reached out to Tennessee and Tennessee had not reached out to Kentucky about some form of agreement, but Beshear admitted he wasn’t surprised based on “some of the things I’ve said.”

With some areas, including President Donald Trump, pushing for some signs of reopening by May 1, Beshear said some parts of the economy, especially health care, have an “opportunity” to make some date near that.

Others will be a “hard date to hit,” the governor said.

“It will be really gradual and phased in,” Beshear stated, noting “late May or early June” might be a more realistic target for some other elements of the economy.

“We are not in an old normal, it is a new normal and it will be,” he said, noting the development of a vaccine, additional testing and other factors all must come together.

Although he had been part of a detailed briefing from President Trump on his proposals for opening the economy, Beshear left the details to the president to announce Thursday night.

“We are still working through the details,” he said, noting the “numbers of what is going on with the virus” will be the driving factor.

The governors say they will work with experts and take a “fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protects families from the spread of COVID-19.”

All together, the 17 states covered by the three pacts are home to nearly half of the country’s population.

During his daily briefing Wednesday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he and the governors of Ohio and Indiana had been having serious discussions about a reopening plan, including the metrics they would use to guide them and the science, medical and business dynamics on which they would rely.

The pact comes as protesters are beginning to mount rallies in different states urging the reopening of businesses and jobs. Beshear’s briefing Wednesday had one such rally echoing outside and could be heard on his broadcast. A similar coordinated rally was held in Michigan at the same time.

Other states also reported them.

But leaders in almost every state have said rushing into a reopening would only enhance the chance of a new, and potentially even more deadly, outbreak of the coronavirus.

Thursday, in a press release, Beshear expanded on the discussions, saying Governors Tony Evers of Wisconsin, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan would work “closely coordinate plans to reopen the regional economies when the time is right.”

“While each leader ultimately will make their own decision regarding their states plans, the collaboration will lead to a more effective eventual opening of different parts of the economy,” Beshear said.

“We owe much of our success in flattening the curve in Kentucky to the sacrifices our families are making. And while we continue to aggressively battle COVID-19, the moment we can begin to take action to reopen parts of our economy, we must do so in a way that ensures every sacrifice made is not squandered,” Beshear added. “I am proud to continue working with other governors to ensure reopening efforts are in the best interest of every Kentuckian.”

He said no decision has been made on the timing for reopening Kentucky’s economy, adding that he will rely on the expertise of public health leaders to make any determination.

As part of yesterday’s announcement Gov. Holcomb said: “While Hoosiers have been hunkered down to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, we’re not going it alone. We’re in this together as Hoosiers and alongside our neighbors in Ohio and Kentucky, where we have strong partners in Gov. DeWine and Gov. Beshear. I know were each looking forward to reopening our states for business as soon as its safe.”