Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said Tuesday that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is working with other Midwest governors to potentially coordinate their efforts to reopen the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York and six neighboring states announced Monday they plan to work together on plans to ease restrictions that have halted large segments of the economy.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said in a statement announcing the coalition that the states must work together because they “have one integrated regional economy.”

On the West Coast, the governors of Washington, California and Oregon also are working on a joint plan to reopen their respective states’ economies.

Ananich said he asked Whitmer about the potential of coordinating with other Midwest governors during a conversation with the Quadrant Leaders – which includes the Senate majority and minority leaders, the House speaker and minority leader, and the governor.

“I brought that exact question up to the governor,” Ananich said. “So far, we’ve seen great working relationships between our governor, the Republican governor in Ohio and Indiana and the Democratic governor in Illinois. I know a lot of those kind of things are happening, we’re looking at best practices and how our states’ recoveries are similar in some ways and how are things different.”

Whitmer emphasized on the call that even once her current stay-at-home order expires at the end of April, the economy will likely have to reopen in phases.

“It’s not going to be like flipping a switch,” Whitmer said. “It won’t happen overnight and life might not look like it did in February for a while.”

Ananich said this is to minimize the risk of a second wave of cases.

“The primary goal would be to make sure we keep everyone safe so that when we do open up, it can open up for the long term,” Ananich said. “What we’ve seen in other countries that have tried to open up too quickly is they open up and they have a surge again and they have to shut down again. I think anybody who’s thinking about this logically would recognize that opening up and shutting down, opening up and shutting down, is no way to run an economy.”

Michigan had 27,001 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state Tuesday, and 1,768 people have died from the virus.

Of the confirmed cases, 1,030 are in Genesee County, and 86 people in the county have died from the virus.

Over 40% of deaths caused by COVID-19 in Michigan have been among African Americans, despite the group making up only 14% of the state’s population.

Whitmer created a task force last week that will recommend ways to address these racial disparities.

Whitmer also extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order through April 30 to minimize further spread of COVID-19.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...