COVID-19 survivor Tom Hanks has some harsh words for people who refuse to wear a mask
Deutsche Bank / Flickr

Actor Tom Hanks is speaking out about Americans who can't manage to practice basic precautions to help stop the spread of the COVID-19.

Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, are in a unique position to talk about the virus, they were among the first major celebrities to announce they contracted the virus in March.

The couple recovered form the disease after self-isolating in Australia.

The "Forest Gump" and "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" star didn't mince words when speaking at a press conference for his upcoming film "Greyhound," which debuts July 10 on Apple TV+.


"There's really only three things we can do in order to get to tomorrow: Wear a mask, social distance, wash our hands," he said according to People. "Those things are so simple, so easy, if anybody cannot find it in themselves to practice those three very basic things -- I just think shame on you."

He has had some harsh words for those who refuse to follow basic health precautions that have led to the spread of the virus.

"Don't be a prick, get on with it, do your part," he said. "It's very basic. If you're driving a car, you don't go too fast, you use your turn signal and you avoid hitting pedestrians. My Lord, it's common sense."

Hanks a great spokesperson for COVD-19 safety given his experience with the virus and his status as one of America's most beloved actors. Hanks has always excelled at representing the common man on screen, hopefully his message will resonate with Americans who have been unwilling to comply with basic social distancing protocols.

A "shame on you" from America's dad is what we definitely need right now.

During the press conference he also shared how he and his wife recovered from the disease.

"Oh, as the canaries in the coal mine for the COVID-19 experience, we are fine," he said. "We had about 10 days of very uncomfortable symptoms. Not life-threatening, we're happy to say. We were isolated in order to keep an eye on ourselves because if our temperatures had spiked, if our lungs had filled, if any number of things had gone wrong with this, we would have needed expert medical care."

via Deutsche Bank / Flickr

Having experienced the disease first-hand, he and Wilson are adhering to strict social distancing protocols.

"I guess we were model recoverers from COVID-19, but we were also isolated so that we would not give it to anybody else that we came in contact with, and since then have been doing the same isolating, social distancing that is being asked of the world so, we are fine," he added.

The actor's words come as the U.S. cannot seem to get a handle on the spread of the virus. On Tuesday, new U.S. COVID-19 cases rose by more than 47,000, the biggest spike since the onset of the pandemic. In June, cases of the virus doubled in at least ten states.

"Clearly we are not in total control right now," Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate committee. "I am very concerned because it could get very bad."

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 126,000 Americans.



Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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