14 Celebrities Who Shared Their COVID-19 Stories
The coronavirus clearly cares little for fame.
When the coronavirus first began to sweep the world in early 2020, few could imagine that in November we'd still be fully immersed in it, living in a world ravaged by fire, disease, and chronic governmental ineptitude.
Today the United States has reported more than 250,000 COVID-19 deaths, and that number shows no sign of decreasing. The virus has spared no one and nothing, and Hollywood and the entertainment industries were hard-hit, with even some of the world's largest and wealthiest stars relegated to their beds, forced to turn to Instagram for sympathy and updates.
Here are some of the most famous people to confess that they received a positive COVID-19 test. It's likely that many other famous people had the virus and either were never diagnosed or chose not to share their stories. The list also doesn't begin to cover the tragedy of all those who died from the virus, or the agony felt by those whose lives were torn apart by the pandemic and other crises in 2020.
But even these few stories are testimonials to a virus that proved itself to be far more powerful than mankind's most renowned figures. And, if the fact that Tom Hanks is still isolating is any proof, it's not over yet.
1. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the early days of the virus. Their revelation, posted on March 11th, shocked the world and made many people realize just how serious the pandemic—then still in its first stages—actually was.
Now, Hanks is isolating in Australia six months after his diagnosis after returning to continue filming an Elvis biopic, directed by Baz Luhrmann. His arrival has prompted a discussion about re-infection rates and whether people need to re-quarantine after they have the virus.
2. Idris Elba
Elba and his wife, Sabrina, both tested positive for "very mild," asymptomatic strains of coronavirus in March and have since fortunately recovered. The pair self-isolated in New Mexico, where Idris had been filming a movie, before returning to London in May.
3. Colton Underwood
The Bachelor star and former NFL player was diagnosed with coronavirus in March. "The last few days were rougher than I expected," he wrote of his experiences with the virus. "The most prominent symptoms are my cough, night sweats and shortness of breathe. Breathing is challenging, the best way to describe it is feeling like I only have access to 20% of my lungs."
"I'm hopeful that they are starting to work! This morning was the first time that I've felt any real type of improvement since the beginning of this," he wrote in a post. "I'm hopeful that I've turned the corner and will be back to 100% soon. We are very lucky that all of this was manageable at home after getting the proper medicine."
Underwood isolated on the third floor of his girlfriend Cassie Randolph's house in Huntington Beach. "I'm on the third story of the Randolph's home, isolated from the rest of the family (The Health Department called and spoke to both Cassie's mom and me to make sure we understood timing and what to do)," he said. "When they make food they make an extra plate and drop it off and have been checking on me regularly to make sure I am comfortable and breathing! They have been amazing and have been taking great care of me."
(Underwood has healed from COVID-19, presumably, but he and Randolph soon split and she just filed a restraining order against him, so clearly things went wrong somewhere).
4. Aaron Tveit
Broadway's Aaron Tveit was starring in a production of Moulin Rouge when he began suffering from flu-like symptoms, but he and the show's cast still took precautions, canceling meet-and-greets and not allowing fans backstage. This was back in early March when confusing reports of COVID-19 were just beginning to flood in. Then Broadway went dark on March 12th, and Tveit received a COVID-19 test that confirmed he had the virus.
"I felt lethargic," Tveit said of his symptoms in April. "I never had the shortness of breath or fever that people were talking about. But then, very interestingly, I completely lost my sense of smell and taste."
"I wanted to put forward that this is such a serious thing. You could not have a fever, you could not have a shortness of breath, you could not have this dry cough, and you could still be positive. I wanted to share my experience and say this is very serious. You have to pay attention to this right now."
Tveit also expressed cautious optimism about Broadway's return, which feels a bit gut-wrenching given that he was interviewed in April and it is now September and Broadway remains closed. "Everything is a question: When? What? How? For the Broadway community specifically, I think everybody just feels unsure. There are shows that have just opened and yet to open that are hanging in the balance. We don't know when we will be going to work. Will people be interested in coming?" he said. Broadway shows are set to reopen in 2021.
5. Slim Thug
Rapper Slim Thug was diagnosed with the coronavirus in March. "I wasn't outside clubbing or doing something extra. Everything I was doing was essential. I did get a haircut. I must have caught the spray," he said. "Outside of that, I went to get something to eat. I stayed in my truck, I never got out of my truck."
He had some choice words for those ignoring pandemic advice: "They sound like people who want the coronavirus," he said. "If you want it, that's how you should move. If you don't want it, you should stay home and stay out the way.
6. Jackson Browne
71-year-old Jackson Browne announced that he had coronavirus on March 24th in an interview with Rolling Stone. Fortunately, despite being in an at-risk age group, Browne's case wasn't too severe. "My symptoms are really pretty mild, so I don't require any kind of medication and certainly not hospitalization or anything like that," he said.
Browne suspected he contracted the virus at March's Love Rocks NYC concert, which featured Cyndi Lauper, Dave Matthews, Warren Haynes, Susan Tedeschi, and Derek Trucks performing at the Beacon Theatre. While crowds weren't invited to the show, Browne still suspects he may have contracted the virus from crew members or other performers.
7. Alyssa Milano
Alyssa Milano has been suffering from an extremely prolonged version of coronavirus, which has lasted for months months. On April 2 she shared a photo of herself in an oxygen mask with the caption, "This was me on April 2 after being sick for two weeks. I had never been this kind of sick."
"It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest," she added. "I couldn't breathe. I couldn't keep food in me. I lost 9 pounds (4kg) in two weeks. I was confused. Low-grade fever. And the headaches were horrible." Despite her symptoms, Milano apparently tested negative twice for the virus, and she cited this as an example of the US's very flawed testing systems.
In September, she gave fans a long update about her condition, saying she was "starting to physically feel better," though she's still having heart palpitations and some other symptoms.
Singer Pink had a terrifying experience in the early days of COVID-19, which also affected her 3-year-old son, Jameson. "We have been really, really sick. My 3-year-old, Jameson, has had the worst of it. I've had many nights where I've cried and I've never prayed more in my life," she said on Instagram.
"It was terrifying at one point," Pink later told Ellen over video chat. "I've had really, really bad asthma to the point where sometimes I end up in the hospital. I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn't breathe. I needed my nebulizer for the first time in 30 years. I couldn't function without it. That's when I started to get really scared."
Pink has also donated $1 million to healthcare workers on the frontlines during the pandemic.
9. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
The Rock, his wife Lauren, and his two daughters Jasmine and Tiana all contracted the coronavirus in early September. The Rock, who is the world's highest paid actor, confirmed this in a September 3rd Instagram video. The diagnosis was a "a kick in the gut," the actor said, as his family was "disciplined" in following safety protocols.
Fortunately, the actor's daughters only suffered from sore throats for a few days before bouncing back to normal, though Johnson and his wife apparently had a rougher go. "I can tell you that this has been one of the most challenging and difficult things we have ever had to endure as a family," Johnson said. Yes, COVID-19 can level even The Rock.
10. Sara Bareilles
The singer-songwriter and Waitress creator shared her experience with COVID-19 in an instagram story posted in early April. "I had it, just so you know. I'm fully recovered, just so you know," she wrote. "And I am just thinking about all the people who are walking through this really tricky time and sending a lot of love and just being really grateful for every easy breath and every day that I get to be walking around. I'm really quiet right now and will probably continue to be quiet, just sort of taking all of this in and having a lot of feelings, as I do."
Later, Bareilles shared more details about her experiences. "You really have to listen to your body, rest and pay close attention if you're having any respiratory issues," she told People Magazine. "But it was scary because you're waiting for it to get worse the whole time. So I can understand why it's a really panic-ridden time for so many people."
11. Sturgill Simpson
The musician started experiencing coronavirus symptoms on March 13 but was unable to get tested until a month later. "They pulled the plug on our tour March 12 and I returned home. This photo was taken at 9am on March 13th when my wife took me to our local hospital ER due to chest pains, fever, and pre-stroke blood pressure levels," he said in a caption on a photo he took in a hospital bed.
]"I spent an hour listening to a (highly condescending) Doctor refuse to test me because I 'did not fit testing criteria' and tell me why it was impossible that I had contracted the virus due to its extreme rarity and that it was not in western Europe yet during that same period (which we now know is incorrect) even though I was told by two nurses that I was the first person their hospital had walk in requesting to be tested...," Simpson added.
"Yesterday on Friday April 10th, after almost one month without any symptoms, I received a call from the Nashville CDC stating that my test resulted in a positive detection for Covid-19," he continued. "My wife (who has been by my side since Europe) tested negative."
Simpson blamed the delay in results on the U.S. government's ineptitude and Trump's refusal to believe in science. "At least our Government appointed task force headed by a man who does not believe in science is against mass testing and we now have a second task force in the works to 'open America back up for business'!" he finished.
12. Bryan Cranston
The Breaking Bad star was apparently diagnosed with COVID-19 the very first weeks when the virus hit the USA. "We were very fortunate," he said of his and his wife's "mild symptoms." He and his wife, Robin Deaden, only experienced a "couple days of feeling achy" and "a week of severe lethargy."
But he chose to remain quiet because "I didn't think that the world needed another celebrity saying, 'Hey, I had it!' so I just didn't say anything and went about my way," he said.
13. Usain Bolt
The world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, announced that he is self-quarantining for COVID-19 on August 24th. Bolt celebrated his 34th birthday in Jamaica with a mask-free party, and though he did not confirm that he had the virus, an official Jamaica's health ministry confirmed that he tested positive.
"Just to be safe I quarantined myself and just taking it easy," the legendary Olympian wrote in a social media post. Confirmed cases in Jamaica have reached 3511, with 40 deaths, and 73 new cases were confirmed on Thursday September 10.
14. Robert Pattinson
Robert Pattinson was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late August on the set of The Batman. Pattinson, who plays the film's title character, reportedly caught the virus during filming in the UK and is now self-isolating while some production continues on the film.
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