When we hear a call for focused realism about COVID-19, we think people should be better informed about the survival rate from the coronavirus and the near-absence of COVID transmission in schools. But that’s not what Elisabeth Rosenthal wants; in an op-ed for the New York Times, she recalls the graphic scare campaigns around smoking that gave her nightmares and thinks the messaging around COVID-19 should be similar, not some “We’re in this together” nonsense. She’s not talking fear-mongering, though; she just wants nightmare-inducing imagery over cute slogans.

She writes:

As cases were mounting in September, the Michigan government produced videos with the exhortation, “Spread Hope, Not Covid,” urging Michiganders to put on a mask “for your community and country.”

Forget that. Mister Rogers-type nice isn’t working in many parts of the country. It’s time to make people scared and uncomfortable. It’s time for some sharp, focused terrifying realism.

I’m not talking fear-mongering, but showing in a straightforward and graphic way what can happen with the virus.

Another message could feature a patient lying in an I.C.U. bed, immobile, tubes in the groin, with a mask delivering 100 percent oxygen over the mouth and nose — eyes wide with fear, watching the saturation numbers rise and dip on the monitor over the bed.

Um, didn’t Gov. Andrew Cuomo just win an International Emmy for his coronavirus messaging, which included that silly #NewYorkStrong poster that even Chris Hayes 100 percent thought was a joke?

It’s bad enough we already have unhinged Karens driving around screaming “Kill yourself” at lockdown protesters.