The novel coronavirus outbreak made a lot of people increasingly worried, and no wonder: The death count involving those in the U.S. has gone from zero to at least 11 in the last week, with over 150 confirmed cases across the nation, according to CNN. Meanwhile total number of cases globally, as of this writing, stands at 92,000, with 3,200 casualties so far. The pandemic has wreaked untold havoc on businesses and industries, even forcing the delay of the next Bond film No Time to Die.
Among those particularly anxious about the disease is actor and screenwriter Kumail Nanjiani. After six new cases of the virus were reported in Los Angeles County, where he lives, he cancelled plans to participate in a star-studded table reading to be held Wednesday night.
By developments, I mean the recent cases of coronavirus diagnosed in LA. I live with an immunocompromised person so I need to be extra careful and avoid crowds right now. I need to do everything I can to protect those I love.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) March 5, 2020
“I love this script and everyone involved here, but in light of recent developments I have decided to pull out of this table read,” Nanjiani wrote, mere hours before the performance. “I feel bad about it but it’s the only choice I could make. I’m sure my replacement will be someone talented and awesome, should you decide to go.”
He elaborated in a subsequent tweet, writing, “By developments, I mean the recent cases of coronavirus diagnosed in LA. I live with an immunocompromised person so I need to be extra careful and avoid crowds right now. I need to do everything I can to protect those I love.”
The reading, scheduled to be held at the DGA Theater in West Hollywood, finds an army of big names tackling Charlie Kaufman’s Oscar-winning script Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The screenplay was turned into the beloved 2004 movie directed by Michel Gondry and starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as exes who undergo cutting edge technology that erases memories of each other from their brains. In addition to Nanjiani, the table reading’s cast includes Tessa Thompson, Kiersey Clemons, Kelly Marie Tran, Bridget Regan, and Martin Starr. It’s currently not reported if Nanjiani was the only person who pulled out.
Nanjiani has been especially concerned about COVID-19, the name of the coronavirus, using his Twitter feed to fret about what he sees as a lack of prevention.
I’m truly not trying to panic anyone. I just have people I love who are in high risk groups and am frustrated at the lack of preparation, information and response. I guess what I’m saying is… wash your hands?
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) March 4, 2020
“I don’t think people understand how big this Coronavirus thing is going to be,” Nanjiani he posted on Tuesday. “It’s absurd we don’t have a massive number of test kits ready to go. We’ve known this thing was out there for weeks. Seems it’s extremely under diagnosed in the US right now.” He added, “I’m truly not trying to panic anyone. I just have people I love who are in high risk groups and am frustrated at the lack of preparation, information and response. I guess what I’m saying is… wash your hands?”
On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency after the number of cases in the state shot up to 54. The cruise ship called the Grand Princess, currently docked off the coast, is said to have 11 passengers and ten crew members who are “symptomatic.” The House, meanwhile, is scheduled to vote on an $8.3 billion coronavirus response package on Thursday afternoon.