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President Donald J. Trump joined by Vice President Mike Pence, participates in a governors’ video teleconference on partnership to prepare, mitigate and respond to COVID-19 Thursday, March 26, 2020, in the White House Situation Room. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

By Jon Dougherty @TheNatSent

(TNS) President Donald Trump is said to be considering changes to COVID-19 “guidelines” he issued earlier this month as the end of a 15-day period of recommendations which included sheltering in place and the closure of businesses approaches.

Coming off a rocky week for Wall Street that at least saw gains on news that lawmakers were set to pass a monstrous $2 trillion stimulus package that includes up to $1,200 for most individuals and up to $2,400 for most American families, the president appears ready to move into the economic recovery phase.

Fox News reported Thursday:

President Trump on Thursday said the administration is working to publish new guidelines that will advise governors in states across the nation on potential changes to social distancing, based on whether certain counties are low, medium or high risk for the novel coronavirus.

In a letter from the president to “America’s Governors,” Trump thanked state leaders for “stepping up to help America confront this unprecedented global pandemic.”

“Together we are proving that no challenge can match the indomitable strength, ingenuity, and determination of the American people,” Trump wrote.

“There is still a long battle ahead, but our efforts are already paying dividends,” he continued, noting that “the day will soon arrive” when Americans can resume their “normal economic, social, and religious lives.”

The president said the administration is “working to publish new guidelines for State and local policymakers to use in making decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place.”

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Now we’ll see whether many of the state-level orders to shut down activities and commerce, ostensibly to limit the spread of the virus (a strategy which doesn’t appear to be working, by the way, given the ever-rising infection rate) were indeed politically motivated.

Let’s recall that while a few states northeastern states shut down their businesses and told people to stay home before the president issued his 15-day guidelines, most did so after those were issued.

Will governors now ‘heed’ the president’s new guidelines?

The pressure to find some balance between protecting the public from a virus and ensuring that the country doesn’t lapse into a multi-year depression (taking the rest of the world with us) is on governors and the president after a record number of Americans (3.3 million) filed unemployment claims this week alone.

At the outset of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Trump did exactly the right thing: He relied on our founding principle of federalism and let states choose their own destiny.

We expect that’s precisely what he’ll do if/when he issues changes to his original set of guidelines.

It will then be up to state governors to decide whether they want to allow leaders of individual cities and towns — and business owners themselves — decide their own course of action.

Business owners don’t want to endanger customers, either, but they can’t simply soak up ‘relief’ funds from the government and ‘exist’ without income. If they’re not producing anything of value, then the government money will just vanish down a dark hole, never to be seen again. Businesses will continue to fail and Americans will continue to be unemployed.

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So a better policy, perhaps, is to allow individual states, cities, towns, and businesses chart their own destinies. Coronavirus isn’t ‘breaking out’ all over the country like it is in New York City; the danger to Americans living in, say, Joplin, Missouri, is nowhere near the same as it is in the Big Apple.

And let’s not forget that the vast majority of coronavirus cases produce mild symptoms, not black plague-like death.

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The president said that the White House envisions that the expanded testing capabilities will “enable us to publish criteria, developed in close coordination with the Nation’s public health officials and scientists, to help classify counties with respect to continued risks posed by the virus.”

“This will incorporate robust surveillance testing, which allows us to monitor the spread of the virus throughout the country,” Trump explained. “Under these data-driven criteria, we will suggest guidelines categorizing counties as high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk.”

He added: “This new information will drive the next phase in our war against the invisible enemy.”