The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has the entire world fighting against a global pandemic, as of this writing in March 2020. While the virus has torn through Asia and Italy to devastating effect, America is now planning and bracing for the worst. States are declaring emergencies, professional sports have completely shut down, Coachella has been postponed, the phrase “social distancing” has officially entered the lexicon, and the act of washing your hands has never been more important.
With scientists predicting that the coronavirus pandemic could eventually infect up to 70% of the United States’ population, the virus is not discriminating between the rich and the poor — or the famous. Since America’s first recorded case in Snohomish County, Wash. on Jan. 19, 2020, the deadly virus has spread to nearly every state, including NBA locker rooms and the halls of Congress.
So, put on that mask and those gloves, and let’s keep our distance from the following celebrities who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
Rudy Gobert: the NBA's Patient Zero
On March 9, 2020, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert poked fun at the coronavirus by touching all the microphones his teammates would have to use after speaking to reporters following a team practice. Two days later, he tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first NBA player to be diagnosed with the virus (via The Washington Post). Almost immediately, the NBA suspended the season “until further notice.”
A day after his diagnosis, Gobert took to Instagram to share his “fear” of contracting the virus and his “embarrassment” for his actions. “The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered,” he wrote in part. “At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously.” Gobert added that his experience should be used as an example to help “educate others and prevent the spread of this virus.”
For its part, the Utah Jazz organization is reportedly not happy with their young star, who has since “pledged $500,000 to employee-related relief efforts” related to the outbreak (per The Washington Post). “The Jazz are fortunate that they don’t have to get back together and start playing games again right now,” ESPN‘s Adam Wojnarowski reported. “There is a lot of work to do to repair relationships … there’s a lot of frustration with Gobert.”
Did Rep. Matt Gaetz get some coronavirus karma?
Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz wore an oversized gas mask during a House floor vote on an emergency funding package for the coronavirus response in order to mock the perceived the hysteria around COVID-19. Five days later, he was informed that while at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he came into contact with an attendee who had tested positive for the virus. Gaetz then immediately entered self-quarantine.
On March 10, 2020, the representative updated the public and his constituents about his potential diagnosis. “I’ve just been informed that my COVID-19 lab result was negative. In an abundance of caution, I will remain under self-quarantine at the advice of medical professionals through Thursday at 2 pm,” Gaetz tweeted from his official account. “I continue to feel fine and show no symptoms.”
According to the Pensacola News Journal, Gaetz got the call of his exposure while riding on Air Force One with President Donald Trump. Once back in Washington, D.C., Gaetz drove himself back to Florida and took the needed steps to avoid possibly infecting anyone else. “I couldn’t stay in a hotel,” he said on a call to the publication. “I slept in a Walmart parking lot somewhere off (Interstate) 85.”
Justin Trudeau had a close call with coronavirus
On March 12, 2020, it was announced that Sophie Trudeau, wife of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus (via The New York Times). According to the report, Mrs. Trudeau was tested after she became “mildly ill” the day prior and “developed a low fever” that has since passed. The following day, the prime minister called a press conference to update the public on his wife’s condition and announced that he too would “remain in self-isolation for 14 days,” according to People.
In his remarks to the nation, Trudeau said his wife’s “symptoms remain mild,” but noted that they were “taking every precaution” and following medical advice to isolate. Trudeau revealed that he had no symptoms himself and was “feeling good.” Calling his isolation “an inconvenience” and “frustrating,” he added that it was for the best: “We have to do this because we have to protect our neighbours and our friends, especially our more vulnerable seniors and people with pre-existing conditions. We are following medical advice, as should all Canadians.”
Trudeau then used the rest of his press conference to reassure the country, not only about the virus itself but the potential financial hardships that may arise. “No one should have to worry about paying rent, buying groceries or additional child care because of COVID-19. We will help Canadians financially,” he said. “The government of Canada will be introducing a significant fiscal stimulus package in the days ahead.”
Donavan Mitchell was diagnosed with coronavirus (thanks, Rudy Gobert)
ESPN revealed on March 12, 2020, that Rudy Gobert’s teammate, Utah Jazz star guard Donavan Mitchell, had also tested positive for the coronavirus. “Jazz star Donovan Mitchell has tested positive for the coronavirus, league sources tell ESPN,” the network’s Senior NBA Insider, Adam Wojnarowski tweeted. “Jazz players privately say that Rudy Gobert had been careless in the locker room touching other players and their belongings. Now a Jazz teammate has tested positive.”
Mitchell confirmed his diagnosis on Instagram, thanking his well-wishers and taking what appeared to be a shot at Gobert. “Thanks to everyone who has been reaching out since hearing the news about my positive test,” he wrote in part. “We are all learning more about the seriousness of this situation and hopefully, people can continue to educate themselves and realize that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well being of those around them.”
Two days later, the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest winner posted a video to social media, letting fans know that he was “[feeling] fine” and passing his time in isolation by playing video games. “Just want to say thank you guys so much for your continued support, man. It means a lot to me,” Mitchell said, adding, “I can’t wait to get back on the floor and play for the best fans in the world.”
An Australian official potentially exposed Ivanka Trump to coronavirus
Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton tested positive for the coronavirus on March 13, 2020, which he revealed in a statement posted to Twitter. “This morning I woke up with a temperature and sore throat. I feel fine and will provide an update in due course,” he wrote. “It is the policy of Queensland Health that anyone who tests positive is to be admitted into hospital and I have complied with their advice.”
A week prior to his diagnosis, Dutton attended a White House meeting to fight online child exploitation. Also at that meeting? President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump. The Australian Embassy in the United States’ official Twitter account posted a photo from the event that showed Dutton and Ivanka standing next to each other. Once learning about Dutton’s test results, the first daughter decided to work from home.
“The White House is aware that [Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton] tested positive for COVID-19. He was asymptomatic during the interaction,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement (per Politico). “Exposures from the case were assessed and the White House Medical Unit confirmed, in accordance with CDC guidance, that Ivanka is exhibiting no symptoms and does not need to self-quarantine. She worked from home today out of an abundance of caution until guidance was given.”
Ted Cruz had two coronavirus scares
Much like Rep. Matt Gaetz, Senator Ted Cruz interacted with an individual who tested positive for the coronavirus during the Conservative Political Action Conference (via CNN). After revealing he shared a “brief handshake” with the infected person, the Texas senator entered 14 days of self-quarantine.
“Given that the interaction was 10 days ago, that the average incubation period is 5-6 days, that the interaction was for less than a minute, and I have no current symptoms, the medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low,” Cruz’s statement read. However, four days later, Cruz had to extend his self-quarantine after he learned he came into contact with a second person who tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to The Hill, Cruz sat at a CPAC table, shook hands, and posed for pictures with Santiago Abascal — a Spanish government official who tested positive for the virus while Cruz was in his first self-quarantine. “My understanding is that Mr. Abascal tested positive for COVID-19 last night. His staff have informed us that he was asymptomatic at the time of our meeting and that several days after our meeting he had extended interactions with another individual who has also tested positive,” Cruz said in a statement.
Miami mayor Francis Suarez is keeping a video diary after his coronavirus diagnosis
Four days after attending an event in Florida with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his staff, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tested positive for the coronavirus, the Miami Herald reports. Suarez was in the same room as Bolsonaro’s press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, who tested positive upon his return to Brazil. After learning of Wajngarten’s results, the 42-year-old mayor went into isolation immediately.
“Residents and employees, I was informed that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Suarez said in a video message posted to Twitter that day. “I feel completely healthy and strong. However, I am doing the responsible thing by working with the county’s health department to take every precaution to ensure that not only my family is healthy, but everyone I have come into contact with is healthy, as well.”
In another video message two days after his diagnosis, Suarez updated his constituents on his condition. “Last night, I was feeling a little bit of aches and pains. I took one 500 milligram Tylenol Extra Strength, been hydrating a lot,” he said. “I didn’t sleep as much as I would like. I usually get about six and a half hours of sleep on average. I got about five hours of sleep. I think that was a little bit of restlessness and stress from yesterday and being a little bit amped up with all the interviews that I had to do, and also a little bit of the effects.”
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were diagnosed with coronavirus while Down Under
While in Australia to film an Elvis biopic with director Baz Luhrmann, Tom Hanks revealed that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the coronavirus in a post on his verified Instagram account. “We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too,” Hanks, a.k.a. the nicest guy in Hollywood, wrote in part. “To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive.”
As they remained in isolation, the movie star tweeted a photo of himself and Wilson to update their fans and thank their caregivers: “Hello folks. Rita Wilson and I want to thank everyone here Down Under who are taking such good care of us. We have Covid-19 and are in isolation so we do not spread it to anyone else. There are those for whom it could lead to a very serious illness. We are taking it one-day-at-a-time.”
With son Chet Hanks announcing his famous parents are “not trippin'” over the diagnosis, Wilson is also staying positive during their isolation and even asked her Twitter followers to help her create a Spotify playlist called “Rita Wilson’s Quaratunes.” Some of the more apt song selections include Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself,” the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated,” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” and The Beatles’ “I’m So Tired.”
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