The COVID-19 outbreak isn't over yet, but we've reached a turning point: American politicians and bureaucrats are beginning the tricky process of trying to simultaneously walk back their predictions of catastrophe, while awarding themselves the credit for those predictions not coming true, and avoiding the blame they deserve for inciting headlong irrational panic.

Anyone who tries to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic, and its associated social, political, and economic panics, are good things is  an idiot, or trying to sell you some kind of snake oil, or both. Society-wide disasters are always net negatives, or we wouldn't think of them as disasters in the first place. Silver linings are never as shiny as the clouds they run through are large.

That doesn't mean silver linings don't exist, though. They do, and some of them are significant.

Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of The River Church in Tampa, Florida, strongly believes that God wants his church to continue holding live services for hundreds of parishioners, even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hillsborough County sheriff Chad Chronister and state attorney Andrew Warren strongly believe that they're entitled to threaten Howard-Browne with arrest for holding those services, then follow through on that threat.

"[A]s the top US watermelon-producing state prepares for harvest," Reuters reports, "many of the workers needed to collect the crop are stuck in Mexico .... Without the workers, crops could rot in fields throughout the country,” starting in Florida and California where major harvests begin in April and May.

Around the US, "essential” workers are going to work every day and doing their jobs, COVID-19 pandemic or not. Factory workers are producing things. Truck and delivery drivers are transporting those things. Grocery store employees and food service workers are making sure food reaches our tables.

Congress, not so much.

On March 23, 14 US Senators from both major political parties asked US Attorney General William Barr and Michael Carvajal, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, to "transfer non-violent offenders who are at high risk for suffering complications from COVID-19 to home confinement."

It's a smart idea, and one local jails and state prisons around the country are already implementing. But it raises an important question and also points to an important opportunity.

Half the readers I hear from accuse me of Trump Derangement Syndrome. The other half accuse me of rabid Trump fandom. In truth, I think of US President Donald J Trump in exactly the same way I think of most other politicians: He's usually wrong and often dangerous. But when he's right, he's right.

He's right when he says that America needs to "open up" soon.

If anything, his target date of Easter is too distant.

As an old saying goes, it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end.

The world's politicians are innovating on the fly (pun intended) by trying to combine the fall — the COVID-19 epidemic — with the sudden stop, bringing life and commerce to a halt through draconian travel restrictions, business closures, etc.

By invoking the Defense Production Act, which "authorizes the President to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders and to allocate materials, services, and facilities to promote the national defense or to maximize domestic energy supplies," US president Donald Trump has declared himself America's economic dictator.

On March 12, the New York Federal Reserve announced a $1.5 trillion injection of money into the US financial system. Three days later, it cut its benchmark interest rate to zero and announced it would be buying at least $500 billion in government bonds and another $200 billion in mortgage securities.

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