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The Doctor Behind "Contagion" Has the Coronavirus–and He Has a Warning

"The very best tool we have is isolation and confinement. We need to protect ourselves," he emphasized.

Gizmodo Australia / "Contagion"

No one understands the horror behind Steven Soderbergh's eerily prescient film Contagion better than Dr. W. Ian Lipkin.

Dr. Lipkin was the lead medical advisor for the 2011 film, which tracks the global outbreak and devastation due to a novel virus that mutates from first infecting bats to pigs to humans. The film resonates with loss of life: Empty shelves in the grocery store develop into violent looting; bleary scenes of empty, trash-filled streets turn into scenes of mass graves. But then, through the miraculous work of the CDC and one female doctor's daring risk, a vaccine is developed within a year. Slowly, order returns to the world. Shopping malls resume the march of capitalism. Teens go to prom (sort of).

Amidst all the disturbing coincidences between Contagion and the real-world coronavirus pandemic, there is one that's dangerously missing. Dr. Lipkin, the director of Columbia University's Center for Infection and Immunity, appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight to announce that he, himself, has contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

"I have COVID as of yesterday," Dr. W. Ian Lipkin told Fox's David Asman. "And it is miserable, it is miserable." He added, "If it can hit me, it can hit anybody. That's the message I want to convey."

Lipkin urged Americans to continue to practice social distancing in order to curb the spread of the virus. "It's extraordinarily important that we harmonize whatever restrictions we have across the country," Lipkin said. "We have porous borders between states and cities and unless we're consistent, we're not gonna get ahead of this thing…What New York, Chicago and Washington have done has been very, very helpful and I would like to see that implemented broadly across the United States."

"The very best tool we have is isolation and confinement. We need to protect ourselves," he emphasized.

Globally, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have risen above 400,000, causing more than 18,000 deaths. Unless social distancing is practiced on a wider scale, those numbers will continue to escalate.

But one of Contagion's most glaring themes, aside from the ease of infectious transmission, is our human need for social contact. While we have tools to support that need without physical contact, too many people are ignoring the severity of the matter.

Another doctor who consulted on Contagion, Dr. Mark Smolinksi, warns that the message of social distancing is not being received. Smolinksi told ABCNews that he's disturbed by how many people who are still socializing and carrying on with business as usual. "It should look like it did in Contagion," he said, referring to the eerie scenes where "the streets are empty. People are sheltering at home."

When shown videos of young college students celebrating spring break in Florida, he said, "It was disheartening to watch," and I thought, 'Wow. How did the messaging fail to get out there?'"

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All the Best Coronavirus Memes to Keep You Laughing Through Quarantine

When your healthcare system is entirely broken, memes are the best medicine.

The COVID-19 pandemic may be one of the lowest points in modern human history, but it's definitely a high point for memes.

As it turns out, the more time we spend holed up in quarantine, the more time we have to spread stupid images of people hoarding toilet paper. During trying times like these, memes are more than jokes. Looking at the lighter side of things is more important than ever when trying not to spiral into depression, and given the current state of the world, that makes memes a borderline medical necessity.

Anyways, there are some great coronavirus memes out there, so if you're going to get infected with a horrible, potentially deadly virus, you might as well get infected with some laughter, too.

Toilet Paper Memes

Despite the fact that COVID-19 is primarily an upper-respiratory virus, people have been hoarding toilet paper like they're expecting dysentery.

That's not to say it's not a good idea to have extra toilet paper to last through a quarantine, but there are definitely more important things to consider.

Coronavirus Toiler Paper Meme

Also, buying more toilet paper than you actually need is incredibly selfish. One family can only sh*t so much.

toilet paper meme

So enjoy being surrounded by toilet paper as the world falls apart around you. At least you won't have a dirty butt.

coronavirus toilet paper

Handwashing Memes

Aside from quarantine and social distancing, washing your hands is one of the primary defenses against coronavirus. It's of the utmost importance to learn how to do it properly.

For those of us who do wash our hands properly, dry hands will likely become the bane of our existence.

Also, don't forget to sanitize surfaces. Wipe down your doorknobs, light switches, countertops, etc. to avoid the spread of germs.

Oh, and any face mask other than an N95 respirator mask—which are only needed by medical professionals right now and are in short supply—isn't particularly useful against coronavirus. So stop buying up masks. They won't help you.

Introvert Memes

To some extent, the whole social distancing/quarantine shtick is kind of old hat for introverts.

If anything, it's the ultimate excuse for those of us who already dislike social interactions.

introverts coronavirus meme

That's not to say that the pandemic is a good thing, but hey, might as well seek out the positives.

Quarantine Memes

For most people, though, quarantine is a massive disruptor to daily life. It's important to establish routines wherever we can to establish a new sense of normalcy.

coronavirus subway meme

The internet can allow us to maintain work relations and social interactions to avoid total isolation.

Although the unfortunate reality is that major life events for many people will still be disrupted and potentially ruined.

It's hard to consistently stay positive during a period as stressful as this one, so remember to prioritize self-care.

Even if your plans are ruined, there are plenty of ways to still have fun from home. Like video games. Or...

People Taking Coronavirus Seriously Memes

Ultimately, as much as we joke, coronavirus is ridiculously serious.

Coronavirus Millenial meme

It's of the utmost importance that we stay home and stop traveling unnecessarily.

Coronavirus Traveling Meme

The American healthcare system is absolutely broken, and we need to make sure that the most at-risk people in our community are able to access the life-saving medical attention they require.

Coronavirus Test Meme

So while we continue to laugh at all the coronavirus memes, let's keep in mind that human lives are on the line and it's each of our responsibilities to do our parts in preventing the spread.

coronavirus kanye meme

2020 Memes

Oh, and let's also not forget that 2020 can, and probably will, get a whole lot worse.