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Friday, 17 April 2020 18:38

As Part of U.S. COVID-19 Reopening Steps, Midwest Governors Form Coalition

Written by Stephanie Soucheray, CIDRAP News

Index

President Donald Trump during his daily coronavirus task force briefing on April 16 announced the first plans for reopening the economy and transitioning from widespread stay-at-home efforts. 

During the previous day's briefing, the president said America had likely passed the peak of its infections, and physical distancing measures were working.

 

Deborah Birx, M.D., White House coordinator of COVID-19 response, said the country had noted declining case counts for nine days, but still said the physical (social) distancing measures implemented by the White House should be followed through April 30, at a minimum.

 

Meanwhile, in phone calls with governors April 16, Trump was reported to say each state had to call its own shots on when to open up, according to a recording obtained by the New York Times.

 

"You're going to be calling the shots. We'll be standing right alongside of you, and we're going to get our country open and get it working. People want to get working," Trump said, and he also emphasized that some states could open up before May 1.

 

On April 16, another 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, raising the total number of Americans to 22 million, or 13% of all U.S. workers, who have lost jobs and income in the wake of the pandemic. According to the U.S. Labor Department, this is the fourth week in a row of catastrophic unemployment numbers.

 

Joining governors on the West and East coasts, seven Midwestern governors on April 16 announced a new coalition to open the Midwest economic region. In a letter from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office, she and the governors of Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky announced the partnership.

 

"Phasing in sectors of our economy will be the most effective when we work together as a region," the letter said. "This 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."

 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said April 16 his state and neighboring East Coast states will shutter nonessential businesses through at least May 15.


Cuomo said he is working with the governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Delaware to create a safe plan for reopening the economy.

 

"I need a coordinated action plan with the other states. So, one month, we'll continue the close-down policies. What happens after then? I don't know. We will see what the data shows," Cuomo said during his daily briefing from Albany. "I don't want to project beyond that period."

 

As of April 16, New York had 222,284 cases and 12,192 deaths. The New York death rate continues to spike as state authorities have now begun to include presumed COVID-19 fatalities in the daily totals.


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