Run Forrest Run! Why the Internet is in Panic Mode Over Tom Hanks’ Coronavirus Diagnosis


Run Forrest Run! Why the Internet is in Panic Mode Over Tom Hanks’ Coronavirus Diagnosis

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has shown us that sickness is a great equaliser – wealthy or poor, young or old, the virus makes no distinction. And in case you thought celebrity would effectively insulate the rich and famous from falling sick, perish the thought. Tom Hanks – 63-year-old multiple Oscar winner and one of humanity’s greatest treasures – has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, proving that there is no justice left in the world.

Hanks, despite being one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, is widely known to be one of the nicest people in Hollywood. If you combine a world-class thespian with a cuddly teddy bear, you get Tom Hanks. But all the likeability in the world couldn’t protect Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, from catching the coronavirus while filming in Australia.

Hanks announced the news to fans via Instagram:


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Hello, folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive. Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We’ll keep the world posted and updated. Take care of yourselves! Hanx!

A post shared by Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) on

Naturally, there was a meltdown on the internet. If the general public hadn’t taken note of the coronavirus as a global emergency after over a million documented cases worldwide, the simple possibility of Tom Hanks’ health and safety becoming compromised saw people finally start taking the disease seriously. Comedian and writer of sitcoms like Two Broke Girls and Whitney, Whitney Cummings summed it up best by pointing out how well-loved Hanks is.

Now, there have been cases of other public figures contracting the disease – such as an NBA player and an Italian footballer – but when compared to Hanks’ stardom, they are famous in the same way a Hero Cycle is a bike compared to a Harley Davidson. Hanks has been starring in adored, classic films for four decades, is cherished by multiple generations, and the world will not sit idly by and let him be harmed by a virus, pandemic or no pandemic.

As painful as it is to type these words, perhaps Hanks catching coronavirus is a good thing, if it leads to more people taking an active interest in trying to figure ways to contain and prevent the spread of the disease. We’ve already seen how a celebrity of Hanks’ stature falling prey to a common infection can lead to increased awareness, and it also has real-world implications. BuzzFeed Australia reporter Cameron Wilson tweeted out that Queensland’s Premier has urged people who’ve been in contact with Hanks to quarantine themselves.

The outpouring of concern for Hanks and his wife’s health prompted his son to put out a statement putting the public’s mind at ease, where he said that his parents “aren’t trippin’” about being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Fingers crossed, he makes a safe recovery. All the years he’s spent bringing joy into people’s lives through film have affirmed their faith that he will overcome. Actor Lewis Tan gave voice to what we were all thinking on Twitter:

And then, stand-up comedian Dane Cook came up with the perfect plan of action:

As always, it’s important to not panic (even though the star of Toy Story might be sick!) and remember to look at the light side. And given that this is Tom Hanks we’re talking about, leave it to him to remind us of the fact. If there’s one photo you see today, let it be this wholesome image of a coronavirus-stricken Tom Hanks reunited with his Cast Away buddy Wilson.