‘Contagion’ stars Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and more share medically approved PSAs about coronavirus: ‘Wash your hands like your life depends on it’

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"Contagion" stars Matt Damon Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne are warning people about the coronavirus. (Photo: Getty Images)
Contagion stars Matt Damon Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne are warning people about the coronavirus. (Photo: Getty Images)

Contagion, the 2011 movie about a fictional pandemic sweeping the globe, has resurged in popularity in the wake of the coronavirus.

Now, the team behind the film, including its stars Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne, is reminding people how to stay safe during what’s quickly become a global health crisis.

It’s part of a campaign, called Control the Contagion, that cast members, director Steven Soderbergh, writer Scott Z. Burns, production company Participant Media and scientists from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have created to promote accurate information about the pandemic. The result is several public service announcements, which have been fact-checked by medical experts, and feature an A-list cast, with more to come.

Damon, in his PSA, stressed the importance of social distancing. He debunked the myth that young people aren’t affected by the coronavirus and advised everyone to stay home.

“You can actually sit on the couch or in a chair, like I’m doing, and watch TV and save a life at the same time,” Damon said. “You can work from home, you can use social media to communicate, you can save a few more.”

He made a couple of jokes.

“Now is the time you can spend all the time you want staring at your phone or your tablet, and if anybody gives you a hard time about it, tell them not to bother you because you are saving lives,” the Martian star said. “Just make sure that you tell them that from six feet away.”

He added, “Other generations have been asked to do extraordinary things, we’re being asked to just stay at home.”

Winslet demonstrated the proper way to wash your hands in her own clip

She explained that she’d first received instructions on that while prepping for the movie. She worked with an epidemiologist as preparation for portraying one.

“Wash your hands like your life depends on it, because right now, in particular, it just might — or the life of someone you love, or even the life of someone you might not know but is still deserving of your consideration,” Winslet advised.

Fishburne, who played a scientist in the film, reassured people that, “The overwhelming majority of us are going to live.” But he told viewers, that in the event anyone watching didn’t already know someone struggling with the coronavirus, they would soon.

“Now, there’s a scene in the movie Contagion about the tradition of handshaking,” Fishburne said. “You extended your hand and showed the person you were meeting that you didn’t have a weapon. That you weren’t carrying one. Well, now, the way we’re living is like, we’re all carrying a weapon and we don’t even know it.”

Stay home and avoid giving the virus what it needs to stay alive, he said.

Actress Jennifer Ehle, who’s also appeared in Zero Dark Thirty and the Looming Tower, explained the importance of vaccines. Makes sense, because she played a scientist in Contagion.

She emphasized that the cause of COVID-19 is not a “Chinese virus.”

“Paranoia is a kind of virus as well,” Ehle said. “It requires far and misinformation to spread, and we don’t need scientists to cure that. Just compassion and common sense.”


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