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Tom Hanks compares coronavirus battle to World War II: 'We're all in this together'

The Hollywood star and COVID-19 survivor called on Americans to do their part in stopping the spread of coronavirus.
/ Source: TODAY

Tom Hanks believes the effort to stop the spread of coronavirus needs to involve the type of collective spirit similar to the one shared by Americans during World War II.

"The idea of doing one's part, though, should be so simple — wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands," Hanks said on TODAY Tuesday in his first live television interview since he and wife Rita Wilson recovered from coronavirus.

"That alone means you are contributing to the betterment of your house, your work, your town, your society as a whole, and it's such a small thing. It's a mystery to me how somehow that has been wiped out of what should be ingrained in the behavior of us all."

Hanks has a new World War II movie on Apple TV+, "Greyhound," that will be released on Friday. He referenced the unified effort during that time in America to the type of mindset we need now to fight the coronavirus.

"What has lingered here is this societal question really of doing our part," Hanks said. "Not everything I say has to be tied to somehow the war effort back during World War II, but there was a sensibility that permeated all of society, which was do your part, we're all in this together."

Hanks and Wilson announced on March 11 that they had tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first celebrities to share that they had been diagnosed with an illness that has now killed more than 500,000 people worldwide. Cases have continued to spike in more than half the country.

"I think a huge majority of Americans get it," he said about taking precautions. "There's no law against ignorance, it's not illegal to have opinions that are wrong. There is a darkness on the edge of town here, folks. Let's not confuse the fact, it's killing people. I don't know how common sense has somehow been put in question in regards to this."

The 63-year-old actor wrote on Instagram in March that he and Wilson, 63, came down with symptoms of a cold, including fatigue, body aches and fevers, while in Australia. Hanks later updated that he had "no fever, but the blahs" as they isolated themselves for 14 days, but said Wilson lost her sense of taste and smell and had intense nausea.

"No, we were not (afraid) because we were feeling extremely punky," Hanks said. "I don't want to dismiss our symptoms. We were feeling rotten. I had body aches, crippling, cracking body aches, but what we were mostly concerned was at the time, what is next."

Australian officials monitored their fevers, lungs and oxygen levels while making sure they didn't spread the virus to others, according to Hanks.

"We were very much aware that we were maybe exploring some brand new territories about the personal as well as the public versions of having COVID-19," Hanks said.

The couple returned to California from Australia in late March, and Hanks donated his convalescent plasma in April as a COVID-19 survivor to help others during the pandemic.

Hanks also pleaded with people to wear a mask during a virtual press conference on July 1 to promote "Greyhound."

"Those things are so simple, so easy, if anybody cannot find it in themselves to practice those three very basic things — I just think shame on you," he said.