Tom Hanks won't be the only major celebrity to contract coronavirus
Nope, Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t have coronavirus. That was a savvy bit of trolling. But another beloved Hollywood figure did test positive yesterday, becoming the first majorly famous person in the US to get sick.
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson announced late Wednesday that they’d been feeling under the weather, so “to play things right, as is needed in the world right now,” they got tested for coronavirus, and yep, they have it. The couple will be quarantined and observed till they get the all-clear from medical officials. Cheerful even in a pandemic, Hanks wrote, “Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?”
The Hankses aren’t home in LA at the moment; they’re overseas in Australia, where Tom is on-location filming an Elvis biopic. The couple was out-and-about enjoying Sydney just days before they fell ill. In a way, it’s fortunate Tom and Rita were in Australia when they developed symptoms: testing there is free and widely available thanks to early and coordinated pandemic planning, unlike in the US.
The couple’s sons took to social media to assure fans their parents were in good spirits. You might remember their youngest, Chet Hanks, who popped up in the news cycle recently after speaking in Jamaican Patois on the red carpet at the Golden Globes. Last night, Chet posted a video on Instagram of himself shirtless, tattoos bared for the world to appraise, as he addressed the somber situation. “Wassup everyone. Yeah, it's true my parents got coronavirus. Crazy," the video began. “They're not even that sick,” Chet added. “They're not trippin', but they're going through the necessary health precautions, obviously.”
Wednesday was a watershed moment in terms of the visible spread of coronavirus and the impact, long and short term, of the pandemic on entertainment and culture. The NBA abruptly suspended its season last night after a player for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus. Sources told ESPN the afflicted player is all-star center Rudy Gobert (who notably made light of the pandemic during a recent press conference, rubbing his hands on all the microphones). The NBA team confirmed a second Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday.
The scene amid last night’s revelations was dramatic. Moments before the Jazz tipped off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the game was delayed for around 30 minutes, then called off completely. At one point, someone from the Thunder’s medical team sprinted onto the court to speak with the referees, then players from both teams decamped for their locker rooms. The Jazz reportedly stayed overnight inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena and there’s talk of busing the team back to Utah.
Yesterday, the World Health Organization officially designated the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. As the word’s origins suggest, the illness now has the reach to potentially infect pretty much all people. Now, that’s not necessarily cause to panic, just reason to be more diligent about your personal hygiene and mindful of who you interact with (ahem, protect the elderly from your grimy hands and runny noses).
The pandemic also means celebrities like Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Rudy Gobert aren’t “special” or, conversely, in more peril than the rest of us — actually, the rich have a significant leg-up on the rest of us in the battle against the virus. At this point, people from every demographic are contracting it. It’s just that celebrities are far more visible than the average person, so they’re being talked about.
Much hand-wringing and disbelief has swirled around the many cancelled concerts, festivals, sporting events, fashion shows, et cetera in the last few weeks. All industries, pretty much (except the hand sanitizer manufacturing biz) have taken a crippling hit from coronavirus. But medical experts say proactive “social distancing” — opting-out of events and gatherings, choosing to work from home, avoiding direct contact with vulnerable people — is the best line of defense against the virus to prevent further spread and disruption of normal life.
Celebrities interact with the public more than most people — shaking hands, signing autographs, performing for packed crowds. To safeguard them and protect us all, we should probably just shut down everything for a while… Hunker down and give the streaming entertainment gods exactly what they desire: our undivided attention for the next two to four weeks.