Midwest governors show leadership

(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star

People across the country have found a consistent place to go for sound judgment and informed leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic: The governors of their home states.

In a number of instances, the governmental leaders of American states have become the most articulate and dependable spokespersons in the struggle to fend off the crisis sweeping the planet. Each faces challenges both similar to and different from their counterparts in other states. While styles may be different, many have gained the trust of a wide majority of their constituents.

We’ve been impressed these governors have begun partnering with neighboring states to form coalitions to help steer economic recovery once the public health crisis permits business activity to safely resume. It happened first on the coasts of the Northeast and West, with states in those regions announcing they would work together to advance — and not undermine — a graceful reopening of their economies.

Quickly following that lead was the creation of a coalition of seven Midwest states — including Indiana — with a similar mission. Joining Indiana were Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s worth noting that these states are represented by a bipartisan group of governors, five Democrats and two Republicans.

In these times of intense political discord, often fueled by relentless divisiveness from the very top of the federal government, it’s comforting to know that cooperation and coordination is still possible among leaders on the front lines of this battle.

We commend Indiana’s Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, for their inspired work in their home states, and for their willingness to work closely with their counterparts.

The coronavirus cares nothing of state boundaries, of course. So a regional approach to dealing with public health and economic issues makes sense.

While aggressive shutdown orders and stay-home directives appear to be working to slow the spread of the coronavirus, they have also brought on intense economic strain. The dilemma posed by the pandemic is a particularly challenging one. Easing social distancing restrictions too much and too soon could trigger a resurgence of the virus and enhance the risk of overwhelming health care systems. But strangling businesses with shutdown orders for too much longer risks a severe financial collapse that threatens the long-term economic health of individuals, families and entire communities.

The governors of the Midwest alliance know that they won’t all take actions in the same way at the same time. That’s not the purpose of the partnership.

“We’re all thinking about that smart restart, opening of our states in a very gradual, methodical way if the numbers continue to hold and the trends continue to hold,” Gov. Holcomb said. Sharing ideas and plans should prove to be a wise approach.

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