There is enormous uncertainty around how the Government will and should respond to the many challenges the Covid-19 pandemic poses to society. Much of this is inevitable. We are living through a protracted emergency of a kind nobody alive has lived through.
In recent days, there has been growing criticism of government decisions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, how those decisions are arrived at, and how they are communicated. This has been in part because the overall strategy of the Government is unclear.
Initially, the main focus was on slowing the rate of infection so that the number of ill people would not explode, leading to hospitals being over-run and leaving healthcare workers having to decide who should get treatment and who should be left without.
Last March and April, the risk of this scenario unfolding was frighteningly real, based on the rate at which the virus was spreading globally and the surging numbers in the Irish hospital system.
Now the risks around the healthcare system being swamped in the foreseeable future are much lower even if they remain very real. Data collected across the world show that since the initial outbreak there has not been the sort of sustained exponential growth in cases or deaths which would bring about the worst-case scenarios even though the response has varied considerably across 200-odd jurisdictions.
Closer to home, figures from the nation's hospitals also provide some reassurance, particularly in the context of a considerable increase in confirmed cases of the virus over the past three weeks (from a very low base).
In the most recent seven-day period ending yesterday, 17 people suffering from Covid were admitted to hospital. That is up very slightly from previous weeks, but it remains a fraction of the daily admissions of last spring. In the seven days to Wednesday, April 15, for instance, 258 people were admitted to hospitals suffering from Covid.
When it comes to intensive care units (ICUs), the difference between now and the early stages of the outbreak are even starker. Yesterday's figures showed that there were six Covid suffers in the Republic receiving intensive care treatment. That is up on the low point - of four cases - in late July but a fraction of the 155 Covid patients in the nation's ICUs at the peak in April.
Most importantly of all, there is no indication that the very low number of deaths from the disease is on the rise.
As people get used to living with a new risk to their health, however low it is for the majority, they will need stronger and clearer reasons to continue accepting unprecedented disruption to their lives.
To give people and businesses more clarity on why and when any tightening would take place, a greater focus on hospital admissions and numbers in intensive care could be the way to go.
If the Government was to set thresholds of cases in hospital, above which new measures might be initiated, it may provide a clearer and more predictable rational for new measures.
For instance, if the Government was to flag in advance that when the numbers of Covid patients in ICU surpass 20 and/or if hospital admissions hit 30 a day, and the trajectory of both figures pointed to further increases in the future, then new restrictive measures would be introduced (these figures are purely illustrative suggestions and decisions on thresholds would clearly need to be set by those who manage the healthcare system).
The Government should also state clearly that its central objective in managing the disease is to ensure that hospital capacity will not be exceeded. While it was the explicit objective early on, it has not been mentioned more recently even if it is implicitly the main health objective in managing the health emergency.
At a time when the health impact of Covid is very limited, the much-predicted fatigue with restrictions and the uncertainty around the timing of their introduction is materialising.
Frustration could well turn to anger in the months ahead as the disruption to life grinds on into a bleak-looking winter.
It could turn to anger as the reality of an economic depression begins to bite - it is inevitable in the months ahead that more businesses in the worst-affected sectors either will be forced to close or will do so voluntarily in the absence of any viable path back to profitability.
This will turn a disastrous employment situation from temporary to long term for hundreds of thousands of people.
Against this backdrop, the need for clarity on how the Government intends to minimise the damage of this natural disaster is paramount.
Everyone has an interest in preventing the hospitals from turning away patients, including the young and healthy who are at very little risk from Covid, but who may need hospitalisation for other reasons.
Appealing both to people's concern for the wider good and their own self-interest may be a more effective means of managing this catastrophe than tired-sounding clichés of 'We're all in this together'.
At a time of such bleakness, anything that passes for positive news needs to be grasped.
From an Irish perspective, the past week or so has brought some good economic news, at least in relative terms.
Among all 27 EU countries, Ireland was the only one to record an increase in the amount of stuff its factories churned out in the first half of the year and - closely related - it was unique in growing its manufactured exports.
At a time when most sectors are being clobbered by the pandemic, and mass business closures are coming down the line, having one of the engines of economy accelerating should help soften the impact of the Covid crash.