The cast of Contagion issue PSAs: We can beat this by staying apart


Once people started staying home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, suggestions to watch Contagion started showing up in my Facebook newsfeed. It was inevitable, I suppose, though I’ve been reminded why I’ve not seen it. I’m not exactly relishing living through a pandemic, and don’t feel the need to watch one on-screen. That said, the film has a fantastic cast, and they were asked by the Mailman School of public health at Columbia University to participate in PSAs encouraging people to stay home. That one above includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Ehle. The cast recommends washing your hands, practicing social distancing, listening to scientists and doctors, and helping vulnerable people in your area. They also emphasize that other generations have been asked to do extraordinary things. [via Yahoo]

There are also extended PSAs from most of the featured castmembers, including Kate Winslet showing how to effectively wash your hands and disinfect surfaces, Matt Damon and Laurence Fishburne on the importance of social distancing and flattening the curve, and Jennifer Ehle on the nature of the virus, how vaccines work and when we might expect one. She recommended that we listen to the experts and tune “out the voices with other agendas, no matter how powerful they might be.” She also reminds us about the seriousness of other epidemics we’ve found vaccines for, including polio and smallpox.

Noticeably absent from the PSAs is Gwyneth Paltrow. Her ex, Chris Martin, found a few minutes to perform live for followers on Instagram, but Gwyneth was too busy to participate in a group PSA I guess. To her credit, she’s encouraged folks to stay home and to stay apart from each other when they go outside. She’s also donating 25% of Goop profits to Direct Relief, which is providing assistance to medical personnel.

The cast of Watchmen also filmed a PSA about handwashing. Both PSAs are useful and not alarmist, which will be more helpful the longer this goes on, and the more anxious people get. Jennifer Ehle has read snippets of Pride and Prejudice in her Instagram stories, which was fun. Maybe Gwyneth can read to people from one of her cookbooks, if she has the time.

Note by Celebitchy: I recently watched this incredible talk by Dr. Dave Price, a pulmonary and critical specialist at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, on how to protect yourself and your family. It gave me so much hope. He said that you can go to the store without fear, as long as you wash your hands and don’t touch your face, because the only way the virus spreads is by touching your face or being in close contact with someone with it. He recommends wearing a mask in order to train yourself not to touch your face. I’ve been wearing a bandana out to the store for this reason. He also talks about what to do if your loved one gets sick, when you should go to the hospital and if you should get tested. He says to only go to the hospital if you feel short of breath. Don’t just go to the hospital if you have COVID, and don’t get tested if tests aren’t readily available in your area.

I’ve made 2 TinyURLs for this video so you can easily remember and share it with friends. They are:
https://tinyurl.com/nydoctor
https://tinyurl.com/protectfromcovid

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7 Responses to “The cast of Contagion issue PSAs: We can beat this by staying apart”

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  1. Joanna says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I’ve been nervous about going to the store and avoiding it.

  2. Still_Sarah says:

    These videos are amazing. Watch all of them!

    Ever since the pandemic started in China, I’ve been thinking about this movie. I watched it a few years ago. Maybe the movie oversells it but I think it’s still useful in showing people how serious this could get and this is why people need to do what they’re told – social distancing, etc.

  3. Kath says:

    From a public health/epidemiological point of view, Contagion is an excellent film. I thought some of the scenes of hoarding and violence were overdoing it, and it would take longer for civilisation to crumble, yet here we are! It only took a few weeks for people to start behaving like arseholes.

    This morning in my small-ish city, an 65+ year old man of my acquaintance got shoved aside by a teenager while waiting in an unemployment line. You still can’t buy basic essentials. People who are being quarantined for free in 5-star hotels in my country (Australia) are complaining about the food and the view from their windows. Meanwhile, every second person is keen to tell you that the virus is “biowarfare” or a hoax.

    Seriously – it is uncanny how accurately Contagion nailed our current circumstances.

  4. Esmom says:

    Thanks for sharing. I am excited to share the doc’s advice with my friends. Our group chats have become increasingly spirited with wildly diverging opinions on going to the store, sanitizing groceries, etc.

    I’m not freaked out about going to the store, I tend to go as early as possible, which has allowed me to avoid crowds and lines. I am wondering, though, when the shelves will be restocked with tp and paper towels. So far very store I’ve been to in the past two weeks has had bare shelves in that aisle. We are starting to run low. Not panicking though!

  5. nicegirl says:

    Excellent article. Thank for the tiny url s also, very kind of you to share and very informative.

  6. Commenter says:

    Saying that the virus spreads only by touching the face or through close contact is false information! Transmission through touch is not as common as the airbourne spread through droplets from sneezing, coughing, breathing etc. from an infected person which can travel more than “close contact”. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Ftransmission.html

    Additionally, virus particles might even be able to aerosolize (stay in the air) for up to hours depending on environment and conditions.
    https://www.npr.org/2020/03/28/823292062/who-reviews-available-evidence-on-coronavirus-transmission-through-air

    This is a new virus and we don’t know everything yet. Information is rapidly changing. Saying it’s only through close contact or touch is misleading and gives false sense of security. With all due respect to Dr. Price, he is not a virologist, epidemiologist, infectious disease specialist, or aero biologist.

    • Kkat says:

      It can linger in the air for up to three hours.
      It is absolutely spread by more than just touching your face.
      You need to look at up to date information.