One of the most toxic elements of the coronavirus is that the road ahead never appears clearly with any obvious way forward. When it comes to the economy and what may lie ahead, the experts disagree.
We have already seen the economic devastation caused by the virus and the necessary political and social response to it, with more than half a million on the new Covid-19 unemployment benefit. There are a further quarter of a million people receiving payments from their employers through the Government's wage subsidy scheme.
Few now see a short, sharp shock followed by a rapid upward trajectory for economic recovery, as was predicted just a few weeks ago.
Even the economic optimists believe the economic downturn will be as large as that of the Great Depression of the 1930s but it won't last nearly as long. They believe economies can bounce back.
The pessimists warn about a prolonged and deep recession, if not depression, that will follow the Covid-19 crisis because governments have borrowed heavily, employers have higher debt, small businesses don't return and confidence is shattered.
Former US president Ronald Reagan, who was a young man during the Great Depression, once remarked: "A recession is where your neighbour loses his job. A depression is where you lose yours."
The prognosis for Ireland is not so stark when you look at headline figures like our GDP, our levels of business debt, our exports and our levels of foreign direct investment.
So, in other words, Ireland could bounce back more quickly than other countries because of the things we export such as pharmaceuticals, IT and food.
The IMF sees Ireland in a more favourable light than other countries for these reasons. The fact we export around the world so much should allow us to benefit from any wider turnaround that comes.
But there are big gaps in this analysis too. It is a slave to the GDP number and as we know Ireland's real economy often feels very different to what large global multinationals are doing.
It still isn't clear how our ability to export can be such a massive help unless the economies to which we are exporting are recovering themselves.
This analysis has little to say to the tourism and hospitality sector where travel restrictions and the desire and disposable income to travel have to be aligned before we can get back on track.
German airline Lufthansa does not believe Europe will see a return to 2019 levels of international travel until 2023. That wouldn't be a bad outcome at all.
Our food industry is also a big employer and it will be dependent on the disposable income and spending power of the likes of British consumers in the years ahead.
The British will create hundreds of billions of pounds in new money to get through the crisis, which could be a longer term drag on their economy. Sterling won't be going up in value in any meaningful way for some time.
It was stated far too simply at the beginning of this crisis that the food industry would be fine because people have to eat. Farmers know only too well beef prices have collapsed as restaurants from London to Paris aren't selling any steaks.
Our own domestic economy will face its challenges too. The retail sector is among the most challenged right now.
According to the World Health Organisation, we cannot maintain a lockdown until a vaccine comes in 12 or 18 months' time so there must be an element of living alongside the virus, with ongoing social distancing measures.
This means opening up manufacturing but with restrictions that will affect productivity and profit.
Similarly, if you are a restaurateur, a hairdresser or a small retail clothing shop, how will you make money where you have half the number of tables or restrictions about numbers in the shop at any one time?
Fewer customers means fewer staff and tighter margins. Ongoing social distancing measures after reopening could be the difference between profit or loss for many small businesses.
It is hard to imagine smaller clothes shops, where we have already seen casualties, recovering in a situation where changing rooms have to be continually sanitised or gloves worn by every customer. Customers are more like to simply go online.
Online favours bigger international players and destroys jobs in small towns around the country.
Some of these changes were probably coming any way and the crisis has simply accelerated things.
The notion of getting back on track in 2021 is a pipedream. At stake now is whether the economy can embark on a slow steady return by putting in place the right supports for families and businesses.
That can be achieved only if the old Exchequer and economic rulebook is torn up. It is inevitable that tearing up the rulebook, while necessary, will become a longer-term drag on economic growth.
A massive fiscal stimulus from the EU is badly needed - not just cheap loans, but real fiscal support.
As French President Emmanuel Macron said, you cannot have a single market where some are sacrificed.