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Why Tom Hanks' Virus Announcement Is So Jarring

'America's Dad' and his wife have coronavirus; here's what people are saying
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2020 11:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – America is freaking out about our collective dad, Tom Hanks, coming down with coronavirus alongside his wife of 32 years, Rita Wilson. (Hey, at least they're not getting a divorce, as some feared when they saw the couple's names trending.) We round up some of the coverage surrounding the news:

  • "Now we all have someone we love diagnosed." That was the reaction of journalist Ann Curry, and the Washington Post uses it in its article explaining why Hanks' announcement hits so hard. "It is often said that we don’t fully accept reality until it affects us, or someone we know personally," the authors note, and since we feel like we know Hanks, this really brings the seriousness of the outbreak home to us.
  • Why the glove pic? In Hanks' Instagram post announcing their diagnoses, he included a picture of a latex glove sitting atop a hazmat bag. As BuzzFeed explains, Hanks loves to find lost gloves and post pictures of them to social media. He once explained, "What is a better metaphor for the loneliness of the city" than a single lost glove?

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  • What the message tells us: The Post notes that while many were immediately scared for Hanks' well-being, others noted that his calm address was reassuring. (The headline of an op-ed by John Avlon at CNN puts it this way: "Tom Hanks is more of a role model than Donald Trump.") Per the Post, he got two points across: That anyone can get this virus, and that all you can do is seek medical attention if you do.
  • One other less-positive message? Some, however, pointed out that it was much easier and faster for the celebrity couple to get tested for the virus, probably thanks to their A-list status. Many others have reported difficulty getting access to a reliable test and slowness in getting results.
  • Inside the couple's current lives: The Geelong Advertiser notes Hanks and Wilson are quarantined inside a "makeshift clinic" at Australia's Gold Coast University Hospital. "It’s no Hollywood movie set and it’s certainly nothing flash for a star," per the paper, but the Queensland health minister says the hospital's infectious diseases unit is "one of the best in the world." The New York Times notes the fact that Hanks was filming in Australia likely added to the ease of his diagnosis, since testing in the country is "free and widely available."
  • The word from the family: The couple's son, Chet Hanks, took to Instagram to reassure followers, "They both are fine, they're not even that sick. They're not worried about it, they're not trippin', but they're going through the necessary health precautions, obviously." Wilson commented on his post, "Love you angel." Colin Hanks, Hanks' son from his first marriage, echoed that reassurance in his own Instagram post, saying he's "confident that they will make a full recovery."
  • Wilson? Sadly, while it was reported that the nurses brought Hanks a volleyball painted to look like Wilson, his Cast Away companion, that's not actually true.
(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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