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Tom Hanks baffled by people who don’t take COVID-19 seriously: ‘It’s killing people’

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks appeared on NBC’s “Today” to discuss COVID-19.
(Paul Drinkwater / NBC)

COVID-19 survivor Tom Hanks has a message for anyone unwilling to “do their part” to stop the spread of the respiratory illness.

Appearing Tuesday on NBC’s “Today,” Hanks reflected on his own early bout with the coronavirus and questioned why some weren’t taking the pandemic seriously. He also discussed his forthcoming World War II drama, “Greyhound,” which debuts Friday on Apple TV+.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with COVID-19. The idea of doing one’s part, though, should be so simple: Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands,” Hanks told host Hoda Kotb. “That alone means you are contributing to the betterment of your house, your work, your town, your society as a whole. And it’s such a small thing. ... It’s a mystery to me how somehow that has been wiped out of what should be ingrained in the behavior of us all.”

Tom Hanks tweets that he and wife Rita Wilson have returned to Los Angeles after being treated for coronavirus infections in Australia.

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Though Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, were in “awfully good hands” and not “afraid” after testing positive for COVID-19, he didn’t want to “dismiss” the severity of their symptoms. The pair became the first major stars to go public with diagnoses in March while visiting Australia for an upcoming Elvis Presley biopic starring Hanks as Presley’s manager, Col. Tom Parker.

“We felt rotten,” Hanks said. “I had body aches — crippling, cracking body aches. ... The Australian officials put us in the hospital, and they kept very strict attention on our fevers, because if they had spiked, we were going to be in trouble; our lungs, because if they had filled up or scarred we were going to be in trouble; and the levels of our oxygen.”

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Although the screen icon believes the “vast majority of Americans” understand the importance of protecting themselves and others from COVID-19, he didn’t mince words when laying out the dangers some have chosen to ignore.

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“Look, there’s no law against ignorance. It’s not illegal to have opinions that are wrong,” Hanks said. “But there is a darkness on the edge of town here folks, and ... let’s not confuse the fact: It’s killing people. ... Yeah, that’s right. It’s killing people.

“And you can say, ‘Well, traffic accidents kill an awful lot of people too.’ A traffic accident happened because a lot of drivers aren’t doing their part. ... I don’t know how common sense has somehow been put in question.”

As for “Greyhound,” one of many films foregoing a theatrical release because of the public health crisis, Hanks is just happy people will have a chance to see the movie at all.

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“I’m actually thrilled that Apple TV is making it possible for everybody to see it — not only worldwide, as long as you have Apple television — but also the day after my 64th birthday. ... Thank you very much,” he said.

“There isn’t anybody that doesn’t like going to see a good movie with 800 other people and coming out with something in common. Barring that, Apple television has saved the day for us. We had a magnificent movie that was not going to be seen.”


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