On Wednesday, the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, and now all efforts are being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19. As many have noticed, the situation is very similar to what went down in Steven Soderbergh’s film Contagion, and the writer of the movie, Scott Z. Burns, has now called out the United States over their response to this alarming issue.
Recently, the writer sat down with Slate to discuss the coronavirus and compare Contagion to the real-life scenario happening at the moment. The conversation quickly shifted toward Burns’ opinion on how the current administration has handled this endeavor and here’s what he had to say about it:
“It is incredible to me that we are not letting the really amazing public health people in this country lead the response—that we are finding out that we don’t have enough test kits and have for some reason disbanded our pandemic-preparedness teams. When I was at the CDC researching the movie in 2009 and 2010, those people were extraordinary. It was no different than the feeling you might get if you went to a firehouse and saw how committed those first responders are to keeping people safe. Slashing the budgets of those things is something I would have never contemplated as a screenwriter. When people tell me that the movie seems to be coming true, I say to them that I never contemplated that we would have leadership in this country that would gut our defense. This administration and this Republican Party talk about protecting people with a wall, and we can’t even make test kits.”
The Contagion writer then touched upon something very unnerving. One of the entities that’s supposed to keep the public safe for just this occasion had been phased out two years before this by the President. And according to Burns, the country is less prepared than it was when he was researching the film about a decade ago.
“We were in a better place to deal with this when I was doing research on the movie. We had a Department of Homeland Security that had a pandemic-preparedness team in place. There were people who understood how public health works. I listened to a press conference that the president gave where he described himself as a businessman who didn’t like it when people were just sitting around. Well, I wonder how he feels about the fire department. I live near a firehouse, and those people spend some time sitting around when there’s no fire‚ but you can’t build a fire department once your house is on fire. Unfortunately, this administration has decided that is what it wants to do, and it puts people way behind. When you look at the amount of testing this country has done compared to other countries, that’s the part that is scary to me.”
Of course, the pandemic has already caused many cancellations and delays, be it Fast & Furious 9 and A Quiet Place II or productions like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which has now halted shooting. Even Tom Hanks has tested positive for the coronavirus along with his wife in Australia during filming for an untitled Elvis biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann.
Many significant events are being affected as well. GDC, SWSX, the NBA and the March Madness tournament have all been canceled, with more likely to follow. Here’s hoping that this pandemic can be contained and the world can get back to normal sooner rather than later. Let’s also all pray that Contagion doesn’t end up being a film based on actual events.