Bipartisan governors urge pandemic safety as holidays approach

    Bipartisan
    Bipartisan "mask up" video produced by Midwestern governors (screenshot from YouTube)

    Gov. Tony Evers joined governors from surrounding states for a virtual press conference to encourage everyone in the Midwest to stay safe during the holiday season as COVID-19 cases in the region are skyrocketing.

    Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were part of the event. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, both Republicans, were not present at the virtual conference, but they have joined the group of mostly Midwest governors who are urging residents to stay safe. 

    All governors present seemed to be on the same page: The holidays cannot be the same this year.

    “For eight months, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated American families everywhere. To fight this virus, governors across the country have listened to medical experts, stepped up, and worked around the clock to protect our families, the brave men and women on the front lines, and our small business owners. And no matter the action we take, we understand that our fight against COVID-19 will be more effective when we work together,” the governors said in a press release. 

    “That is why this group of bipartisan governors is joining forces today to urge families across our region, and Americans everywhere, to do their part to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19. When it comes to fighting this virus, we are all on the same team.” 

    Evers called the bipartisan coalition of governors “critical to our region,” at the press conference, and extolled the “common values that are core to who we are as Midwesterners, no matter what teams we root for or what side of the Great Lakes we live on.”

    “You know when times get tough, Midwesterners know how to roll up our sleeves and help our neighbors,” Evers said, “because we are bound by our commitment to our communities and the people that live there.”

    “We can’t do it alone,” he added, calling for a “robust federal support system to help our states and economies recover.”

    Whitmer said she hopes families get creative this Thanksgiving and meet virtually rather than in person.

    “Each and every one of us that chooses to stay home this Thanksgiving and not get together can be contributing to saving other people’s lives and our own, and protecting our family members,” Whitmer said at the press conference.

    Over the past month, COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed across the Midwest. Medical experts are advising people not to host Thanksgiving with people from outside of their households. 

    The governors each addressed residents of their region and mentioned how they can protect their loved ones, frontline workers, small businesses owners and others from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    The governors also expressed concern about the rising of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in their states.

    “The Midwest is now the epicenter of the biggest COVID-19 surge to date,” Pritzker said. “Here in Illinois … we are ready to take action to protect families and small businesses going into the holidays. To accomplish this, everyone all across our state will need to step up and be all in.”

    Beshear said the next few months will be difficult, and it’s important for everyone to stay safe and protect others to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further. 

    “None of this war can be won without everybody being a part; it takes each of us because our lives are connected, our health is connected, our economy is connected to those decisions,” Beshear said. 

    Evers said staying home and following COVID-19 restrictions and precautions is a great way to show those you love that you care about them.

    “This Thanksgiving is going to look different than others have before and that’s because it has to,” Whitmer said.

    This story originally appeared in Michigan Advance.