Governments and Health Officials Turn to Celebrities and Athletes to Help Spread Coronavirus Awareness

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the world, many local governments and health officials have found new ways to warn people about the outbreak, including the use of celebrities and athletes.

While public service announcements have become very popular throughout the pandemic, using the significant platforms that celebrities and athletes have to spread awareness about the virus has become more prevalent over the past few days.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was one of the first to use well-known actors such as Ben Stiller, Danny DeVito and Robert De Niro, as well as La La Anthony, TV personality and wife of NBA player Carmelo Anthony.

Robert De Niro is watching you. Stay home. Save lives.#NewYorkStateStrongerTogether

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 23, 2020

Danny DeVito wants you to stay home and save lives.#NewYorkStateStrongerTogether @DannyDeVito

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 22, 2020

In their respective videos, they each provide some comedic relief while urging New Yorkers to stay home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus by using #NewYorkStateStrongerTogether. New York is now the U.S. state with the most confirmed cases of the virus, and there are more cases in New York City alone than in all of South Korea. According to a Johns Hopkins University tracker, there are over 20,000 cases in New York state and at least 152 deaths.

The Greater New York Hospital Association has also posted a similar video on Twitter, with other celebrities urging New Yorkers to stay home, and it thanks health care workers for their bravery during this time of need. The video is a compilation of numerous celebrities including Hamilton director Lin-Manuel Miranda, late-night TV show host Jimmy Fallon and Academy Award–winning filmmaker Ron Howard.

Thank you to our health care heroes on the front lines of the #coronavirus outbreak! #HealthCareHeroes

— Greater New York Hospital Association (@GNYHA) March 18, 2020

From a slightly different angle, the World Health Organization teamed up with FIFA, the international soccer governing body, to use a number of popular soccer stars to spread awareness on how to combat the virus' spread.

"For the first time ever, we, the entire world, are all playing on the same team," said the video's narrator, retired Cameroon soccer player Samuel Eto'o. "Our opponent is a disease. We need determination, discipline and teamwork to beat the coronavirus."

The video then uses popular soccer stars such as Carli Lloyd, Lionel Messi and others to outline five key steps to help fight the coronavirus. They are focusing on washing your hands, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, avoid touching your face, practice social distancing and urging those who feel sick to stay home.

Pass the message: Five steps to kicking out #coronavirus:
WHO and @FIFAcom launched joint campaign to equip football ⚽ community to tackle #COVID19 👉

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 23, 2020

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams also recognizes the major platform that some celebrities have and recently asked Kylie Jenner for help spreading awareness.

"We need to get Kylie Jenner and social media influencers out there, in helping folks understand that, look, this is serious, this is absolutely serious. People are dying," Adams said on ABC's Good Morning America.

Shortly after, Jenner posted a story to Instagram, urging people to stay inside.

"Hey, guys, happy self-quarantine," Jenner said during her video. "I know I've already been doing my daily reminder about how important it is right now to practice social distancing and self-quarantine. I'm going on my ninth day. The coronavirus is a real thing. I listened to the surgeon general this morning.... He definitely encouraged me to come on here and talk to you guys."

Even with greater awareness resulting from such efforts by athletes and celebrities, the virus continues to infect people around the globe. According to the Johns Hopkins tracker, there are over 367,450 cases worldwide and at least 41,511 in the U.S., with over 16,000 deaths globally.

Coronavirus in U.S.
Outside a dormitory at the Washington state Patrol Fire Training Academy, a sign reminds people to wash their hands to protect themselves against the coronavirus. Jason Redmond/Getty