DETROIT -- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday outlined the "first steps" to begin reopening the Midwestern state's economy as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, starting with non-essential surgeries this week and then moving on to the manufacturing and retail sectors after that.
"These are first steps," DeWine said. "We've got to get moving. We've got to get people back to work. We've got to open things up."
The plans diverge from those of its neighbor in Michigan in allowing manufacturing to return on May 4. Michigan has not yet outlined specific plans to allow manufacturing to resume. Ohio and Michigan are key states that President Donald Trump, a Republican, won in the 2016 election.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday she plans to consider workplace environment, geographical region and the detected prevalence of COVID-19 in deciding when certain businesses can be reopened as the threat of the virus subsides, reported Crain's Detroit Business, a sister publication to Automotive News.
Whitmer said she would divide Michigan into eight regions, separating the hard hit southeastern Detroit metro area from the rest of the state, using the divisions as one of many factors in determining risk for restarting certain sectors.
At her Monday news conference, Whitmer said her office also is "evaluating a number of industrial sectors for restart as well," Crain's reported. Last week when extending Michigan's stay-at-home order while lifting some restrictions, the state did not explicitly address the ability of automakers to restart assembly plants.
Michigan continues to list "transportation and logistics" and "critical manufacturing" as sectors where some employees can go to work. The Detroit 3 and the UAW have been in talks about when to resume production at assembly and parts plants.
Amid sweeping stay-at-home orders in 42 U.S. states, people have taken to the streets in some states in protest. Public health officials have warned against a premature easing of social distancing orders.
Ohio is part of a coalition of Midwestern states that agreed to coordinate the reopening of their economies. Other states involved are Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky.
Ohio's reopening will begin on Friday as it allows non-essential surgeries that do not require an overnight hospital stay, DeWine said in a news conference. Dentists and veterinarians also will be allowed to open then.
Three days later, the manufacturing, distribution and construction sector will reopen, said DeWine, a Republican. General offices also can reopen then, although he encouraged companies to keep employees telecommuting if possible. On May 12, consumer retail and services will reopen.
Ohio will require all companies to have employees practice social distancing and where that's not possible barriers will need to be installed, DeWine said. Employees must perform daily health assessments, and companies will stagger or limit arrivals of employees as well as shift changes.
"The coronavirus is still here. It's just as dangerous as it's ever been," the governor said, adding that the state's requirements for wearing masks and social distancing remain in place for everyone.
DeWine said sectors like restaurants, hair salons and gyms will come later, and said he did not know what their time lines would be. Mass gatherings like concerts and sporting events will likely be last to return.
The governor said he considered reopening the state by regions, but decided that would have been harder to do and would have caused confusion.
As of Monday, Ohio had 16,325 COVID-19 cases and 753 deaths, while Michigan had reported 38,210 cases and 3,407 deaths.
Whitmer called DeWine a friend, but said the two states faced very different situations pertaining to the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
DeWine said the state needs to ramp up testing and tracing. He believes daily testing totals at the state's public hospital, excluding private labs, will top 7,200 by April 29 on the way to a target of more than 22,000 by May 27.
The state has almost 700 local public health officials working on tracing infection and it is aiming to boost that number to 1,750 by June 1, he said.
Chad Livengood of Crain's Detroit Business contributed to this report.