Tom Hanks' COVID-19 Diagnosis Shaped Public Perception Of Coronavirus, Study Finds

Written by on February 6, 2021

A examine discovered that public opinion surrounding the then-new coronavirus shifted after actor Tom Hanks was recognized with COVID-19 on March 11, 2020, with some people taking the coronavirus extra severely because of this.

Revealed final month within the scientific journal Well being Communications, the examine surveyed 682 folks about their attitudes towards COVID-19 instantly following Hanks’ prognosis final 12 months. Ninety p.c had heard concerning the actor’s social media posts describing how he and his spouse had contracted the illness. 

Almost half of those that had been conscious of Hank’s prognosis revealed that their notion of COVID-19 modified after studying the information. Most members wrote that the virus now appeared like extra of a critical menace of their minds, and one stated they felt “panicked” as a result of Hanks “is wealthy and guarded. He can get it. Anybody can get it.”

“Whereas I don’t know Tom Hanks personally, I do know who he’s,” one other stated. “I suppose this made it a bit of extra private for me. I don’t have names or faces for anybody else who had coronavirus.”

Hanks’ superstar standing and affable, everyman qualities, mixed together with his social media replace particularly mentioning self-quarantining, possible contributed to this response, the examine stated.

“What has modified is that it’s a sign that neighborhood unfold is rampant, and we actually must be cautious NOW,” one other response highlighted within the analysis learn. “It wasn’t simply the information about Tom Hanks. It was the information about all the general public figures who’re self-quarantined after publicity. It’s simply that of all these folks (some I dislike intensely), Tom Hanks is the man we really feel we like and know, so listening to about him is nearer to discovering out {that a} pal or member of the family has it.”

Sooner or later, utilizing celebrities like Hanks as spokespersons for campaigns to battle diseases could also be a method of using this distinctive impact and combating misinformation, the examine suggests.

In a press launch, Jessica Myrick, one of many examine’s co-authors, stated that “individuals who stated they sometimes belief celebrities, associates, household, or Donald Trump for well being info had been extra prone to say that Hanks’ announcement led to optimistic habits change.”

“This implies that public well being officers and advocates might wish to use a lot of these superstar bulletins to assist attain folks,” Myrick stated. “They don’t rely as a lot on information or on scientists for well being info.” 

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