No one seems to be able to hide from it anymore. It’s on campuses and in workplaces across the country; it permeates conferences, classrooms, friend groups and households. Yes, the number of COVID-19 cases seems to be growing quickly, and people are being advised to self-isolate and follow social distancing.

With all this discussion, some people are especially concerned with the danger the new coronavirus might pose, both in mid-Missouri and other communities. Randall Williams, the director for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, says people are right to be wary to some extent. “In certain groups such as people in nursing homes and people who are older, it can be serious and serious quickly,” he says. So far, Missouri has seen five confirmed cases of the coronavirus. No cases of the virus have been confirmed in Columbia as of yet, but things can change quickly, so keep up to date with resources such as local news organizations and the MDHSS Twitter page.

Though the disease presents itself similarly to the flu, Williams says COVID-19 is more dangerous, particularly for the elderly and people who are immunocompromised. That said, the best ways to prevent yourself from contracting the virus are the same methods taught during flu season: wash your hands frequently, avoid people who are sick and stay home if you are feeling unwell.

If you like reading or watching dystopian fiction, the coronavirus commotion might have a silver lining. While we wait for a better understanding of the virus and what this pandemic will entail, Hollywood has plenty of relatable entertainment to revisit. Whether you’re stuck under self-quarantine or just looking for something to watch that’ll finally convince you to stop touching your face, we’ve rounded up some relevant entertainment.

One final note, when it comes to comparing the apocalyptic storylines in fiction, Williams has a simple response. “Don’t,” he says. “Those are dramatic movies that I don’t think hold much bearing to what we’re talking about (in terms of coronavirus)."


I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend film still

The plot of this post-apocalyptic film is based on Richard Matheson’s 1954 book of the same name.

Three years after an experiment with a genetically modified version of the measles virus was intended to cure cancer but failed, New York City is almost empty of human life. Instead, the infected — vampiric creatures who move in the shadows and seek to spread the disease — are left to roam the streets. Only Robert Neville and his German shepherd Sam remain, the two of them working diligently to find other survivors and to try and develop a cure with the immunity in Neville’s own blood.

Contagion (2011)

Contagion film still

Contagion is back in vogue since the arrival of COVID-19.

Lauded as a surprisingly accurate portrayal of how pandemics spread, Contagion has seen a major resurgence in popularity over the past few months. The film starts with Beth Emhoff’s return home after a business trip to Hong Kong. Initially, she experiences a slight cough, but what starts as a mistaken case of jet lag turns into something gravely sinister — and deadly — after only a day. Worse still, the highly infectious disease is spreading faster than health officials are able to contain it, and the chaos that has ensued threatens to become just as dangerous as the illness that started it. 

Video games

The Last of Us (2013)

The Last of Us game image

The Last of Us is an action-adventure game in which players trek across a post-apocalyptic U.S. while avoiding those infected by a mutated form of the Cordyceps fungi.

In the year 2033, a pandemic caused by a mutated strain of the Cordyceps fungi has spread to much of humanity, turning those who are infected into cannibalistic creatures. Players control Joel, a man embittered by the loss of his daughter, who has been tasked with protecting a young girl named Ellie; she might have a cure for the disease, and it’s up to the two of them to traverse the post-apocalyptic U.S. landscape and deliver her to an organization aimed at restoring what humanity is left.

This game is available for the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4.

The Division (2016)

The Division game image

Although The Division is a third-person shooter game, a weaponized version of the smallpox epidemic, which spreads on contaminated banknotes, is the premise for the campaign.

Black Friday, 2015. On the busiest shopping day of the year, New York City becomes the epicenter of a manmade smallpox epidemic that gains the nickname spread to individuals on contaminated dollar bills. As society collapses into chaos without food, water and necessary services, sleeper agents who are part of an organization called the Division are tasked with restoring order. In this third-person shooter game, players control an unnamed Division agent and complete missions in an open-world environment. 

This game is available for Microsoft Windows, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.


The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton (1969)

The Andromeda Strain cover

A satellite sent to gather dust and organisms from outside the Earth’s atmosphere lands in a near-barren section of the Arizona desert, and soon after, almost all the residents of a nearby town are found dead. As a group of scientists investigate the chilling phenomenon, they soon realize the likely cause: an extraterrestrial microorganism that is quickly mutating and spreading.

The Maze Runner series, James Dashner (2009)

The Maze Runner cover

Thomas wakes up the same way all of the other kids had — with no memories except for his name and with no idea as to how he came to the Glade, a field surrounded by a dangerous labyrinth. As the teens work to escape and uncover the truth, however, they find a world even more threatening than the one they left: one ravaged by disease and environmental disaster. This trilogy starts as an action-adventure story and slowly evolves into a quintessential teen dystopian epic.

Follow the latest news on COVID-19 from our sister publication, the Columbia Missourian.

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