One economist says we need an adult in the room. Another says we should forget about helping business and just focus on health. Doctors say their incomes have collapsed. Media companies, doing valuable work in a time of crisis, have started to close. The dob-in-your-neighbour lines are clogged. But also, even as Covid-19 numbers continue to rise we're apparently doing better than almost any other country on the planet.
Are we going to survive this? Our health is at stake, and our economy, and the strength of our society. What do we still need to do?
If we're going to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic well, five big things have to go our way.
1. Better health measures
New Zealand is committed to the idea we can suppress the virus: the Government plan is to do it, and on the whole the population seems to agree. But we are not doing enough, yet, to succeed.
Professor Sir David Skegg told Parliament's Epidemic Response Committee this week that the lockdown is invaluable, not as an end in itself but because it gives us time. If we use that time to roll out all the health measures we need, we can "eliminate" the virus.
"We've got the opportunity now," he said and warned: "Every day counts."
If we don't do these things, he added, shutdowns will paralyse society for a year or 18 months. What do we need?
Stricter PPE rules. Import and production of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been ramped up, but the latest from the Minister of Health, David Clark, is that PPE will be made available to all frontline staff who want it.
What? Frontline staff are our heroes and we don't want them getting sick; nor do we want them passing on the infection to the rest of us. PPE use should be mandated, especially for supermarket staff. Their workplaces should be treated, by all of us, as if they are incubators.
Stricter isolation. The police have to keep telling people to go home. And not having David Clark drive 2.3km to go on a mountain bike ride would help. "It was the only way I could get some exercise" is not an excuse.
Put simply, staying home has to work. We are not putting ourselves and the economy through massive disruption only to discover it was pointless because the isolation rules aren't enforced properly.
More ventilators. Covid-19 is a respiratory disease. The key to keeping the seriously ill alive is to for them to be able to breathe: that's what ventilators are for.
New Zealand has fewer ventilators per 100,000 people than almost any other developed country. Why that is should be a scandal and we can deal with it later. Right now, we're importing more, but not many more. Why aren't appropriate companies retooling to build them right now, perhaps using 3D technology?
Along with ventilators, we need more ICU beds.
Widespread testing. Since Skegg's challenge, the Government has ramped up the capacity to test, and relaxed the rules so people with symptoms but no known contact with someone from overseas can be tested.
But although capacity is now 3000 a day, we're still not doing that many. Why not? Is it logistics or internal conflict over the goal?
Better track and trace. If you test, you can track potential carriers, and trace others who come into contact with them. It's one of the keys to effective isolation and we're late to it.
People arriving from overseas – still the biggest danger to all of us, even if they have no symptoms - are not being systematically tracked and traced. On Thursday the Prime Minister and the Police Commissioner even contradicted each other in public about this. The smartphone tracking technology is there and should be used for all arrivals and all people tested.
Quarantine. If the Government can't ensure it's containing the risk from all arrivals under the present set-up, it has to quarantine them.
"Every day counts," said Skegg on Tuesday. That was four days ago.
2. Good survival programmes
The first measure is personal: how do we ensure the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in our community? But there are many others: how do we keep the economy from coming to such a catastrophic stop that it cannot start up again?
Protecting the vulnerable. This means funding, strong and effective protocols for contact, a lot of volunteer support and good communications networks to enable it all.
The elderly, the disabled, people who are ill through all manner of other causes. People in poverty. People at risk of domestic violence. People who thought they'd be good locked down on their own but realise too late that it's not true. Everyone else finding the stress too much – these numbers will grow and grow.
A great many organisations are engaged in support work already. If you think you might be able to help, call any service agency or volunteer group and ask what you can do.
Business and employment support. Most people engaged in the economy are in small and medium businesses and most of them have lost the market for their goods and services. So they've had to stop trading.
The Government's response, and that of the banks, has been a shifting beast. Billions of dollars have been allocated, kinks in the system are being ironed out.
This support is invaluable. It's not about replacing the market, but a recognition the market can't save us right now. It can't do anything at all, actually, except tempt essential traders to jack up prices. It's a measure of something good in this country that, despite the cauliflowers, we haven't seen much of that.
The Government is committed, it says, to keeping local businesses and their workers treading water, so broad economic life can begin again when possible. That's the right strategy.
The large corporates require a different approach. The Government's rescue packages have either not been available to them or not fit for their purposes, and work continues to find effective and acceptable solutions.
One problem here is that most are overseas owned, subject to decision makers offshore who may care little about the local situation. The corporates are critical, though, because from infrastructure to finance, agriculture to fast-moving consumer goods, they occupy strategically vital spots in the economy.
Bailing out companies with deep pockets goes against the grain. But bailouts aren't the only answer. New Zealand is not big enough to be a strategic market for most corporates, so the Government's task, just as with the corner garages and boutique clothes shops, is to find ways to keep them committed through the crisis.
Personal financial support. To put it bluntly, it's getting time the banks got on the front foot about mortgage holidays. It's not in their interests to have tens of thousands of mortgagee sales, so let's hear it.
And where mortgage holders go, tenants should be able to follow. The Prime Minister has made it clear no one should be turned out of their flat because of Covid-19. Society-wide, that sentiment needs to be shored up with initiatives from the finance sector and regulations from the Government.
3. A future-focused recovery
We're not going back to the way we were. Has everyone got that? There's good and bad news in that.
On the bad side, there will be many business failures. It's been said that half of all restaurants, cafes and bars may never reopen. Newspapers are in danger.
Companies dependent on overseas tourists will not survive, unless local tourism flourishes. But will we have enough money in our own pockets for holidays?
Companies dependent on overseas markets will also struggle: if we do get this right, New Zealand will recover from Covid-19 more quickly and more strongly than most other countries in the world. Which means while we start up again, they'll be in no fit state to buy our goods.
Companies dependent on imports will be in the same boat. So local recovery will involve an open invitation to reinstate local manufacturing, and the key to success, as with ventilators, could be 3D printing. Let's make electric cars.
To cope with all this we'll need economic management that sends us back towards a viable mixed economy. That is, companies should not be thrown to the wolves, but nor should all of them expect to be endlessly propped up.
In tourist hotspots, for example, a successful recovery will probably have to involve both market competition among the bars and cafes, and incentivised promotional activity to make local tourism possible.
Good infrastructure. On the good side, as Machiavelli, John F Kennedy and a thousand others have told us, a crisis can be turned to advantage. In Chinese lettering the word crisis is represented by two characters: one for danger and the other for opportunity. There is so much opportunity.
To get people back to work and keep some key businesses going, we're going to build a lot of new infrastructure.
Sadly, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones says we should set aside pesky regulations and Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford has called for "shovel-ready" projects. Those things are code for "forget the environment and build more roads" and the ministers, both of them, should be ashamed of themselves.
What hope for New Zealand, if we cope with this by pitching ourselves back into the 20th century? What hope if we lever ourselves out of this crisis only to fall headlong into the catastrophic crises of climate change?
The measure of the Government's commitment to forward thinking will be if it decides to electrify the entire main trunk line. Modern, electric rail freight haulage can transform our economy, and this, as it may never come again, is a grand opportunity to do it.
Stepping up plans to make Northport and Northland much more freight-capable would also help.
Getting people back to work in cities, and back to shopping in them too, allows us to reinvent the way those cities work. With vastly better public transport with rapid mass transit, like light rail, at its core. With big networks of cycle lanes, too, and much more room on the streets for pedestrians.
What will the role of shops become, after we've been doing so much online shopping?
And don't forget climate change adaptation: this is the chance to build those seawalls and crack on with other projects to protect cities from rising sea levels.
More than infrastructure. Will the Cabinet and its advisers be any good at lateral thinking? How about: the Ten Thousand Projects, aimed at improving the facilities of our communities? From park benches to community halls, better bus stops to tree planting and shared vegetable gardens in the middle of cities, there's so much to do.
What about a big arts programme, so that, as we return to the new normal, we discover the streets are alive with performers? With painted urban landscapes? And wouldn't most beaches and parks benefit from a heap of TLC?
How about more widespread training and financial support for people to become first responders: in the fire and ambulance services, as life guards at the beach? Would community cooking programmes take off?
How do we instil a deeper commitment to voluntary work, right through society? Could we call it the Kindness Project?
Workers' rights. Whatever we build and however we build it, there's another economic goal to keep at the forefront. People should be paid well. Our recovery will be miserable if the corporates and other companies survive, but only at the expense of the wages and conditions of the people who work for them. That's not what we're sacrificing so much for right now.
4. Everything else has to happen
In economics, it's called the externalities: the things outside your control that you need to go your way if you want to prosper. We need a mild winter, to keep the rate of infection down.
We need an early vaccine, available to the New Zealand population. We can't really get back to any real sense of normal without that.
And we need the rest of the world not to descend into chaos. Deaths on a mass scale and massive economic collapse turn politicians and ordinary people alike into desperadoes. And desperadoes far too easily turn to war.
Not to be alarmist, but protecting ourselves from that might be harder than getting the weather right.
5. Keeping the faith
And the last big thing we need to go our way? We have to believe we can do it. Rates of infection will go up before they go down, we've been warned about this from the start. It doesn't mean the suppression strategy is failing.
We need more, we need better, as in everything above. But we need to hold on to our confidence, our hope, our determination to get it right. And the Government needs to back that, push it along and put everything in place to help us get there.
We always say it about this country, there's no better place in the world to make something work. But it's not a slogan. It's still true and this time it's for real.