In the midst of the panic and chaos surrounding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, R.E.M.‘s 1987 smash-hit radio single It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) is feeling particularly relevant to music fans across the world, and despite the global pandemic, Michael Stipe says he does, in fact, “feel fine.”
In an attempt to keep his fans informed, the former R.E.M. frontman shared a public service announcement to the band’s social media channels on Tuesday, highlighting not only the importance of social distancing and self-quarantining, but in staying positive during the height of the dreary outbreak.
The video kicks off with Stipe singing the chorus of the alternative rock anthem.
“I do feel fine. I feel okay,” he says positively. “The important part of that lyric and song title is [the] ‘As We Know It’ [part]. We’re going through something that none of us have ever encountered before and that is, of course, the coronavirus,” he adds.
Stipe continues: “It’s real, it’s serious and it’s here. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not next week. It’s now, it’s today, it’s tonight. It’s St. Patrick’s Day.”
In a longer, five-minute version of video — found on the official Michael Stipe website — the singer/songwriter shares some of the advice he has received from friends in Italy about self-isolation.
“Their message was to us, ‘Please take this seriously. Do not go out of your house unless you have to,” he says.
What it’s like living in Italy under lockdown
In response to the “beautiful” and “encouraging messages” of support, Stipe revealed he had been self-quarantining, before advising his fans to follow suit.
He says: “I’m bunkering. I’m quarantining. I’m Q.S.Q – quasi self-quarantined for several days now and that’s going to continue because I don’t want to go outside, I don’t want to be responsible for getting someone else sick if I’m already sick. I don’t think I am, but none of us know if we are.”
Stipe later called for viewers to head to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website (or CDC) and reliable news sources for all information related to COVID-19.
“I’m a former pop star,” he said, “Don’t trust social media to tell you what is or is not scary or contagious or weird. Go to the CDC, go to trusted news sources,” he added.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, It’s the End of the World as We Know It — among other classics like Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive — have spiked tremendously in numbers, according to Billboard.
The outlet said its downloads had “skyrocketed” 184 per cent to 1,000 downloads sold, adding that it’s going up 48 per cent on streaming platforms, bringing its March 12 weekly count to 746,000 streams overall.
“Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Stay at home, we’ll celebrate in four months,” concluded Stipe in his PSA.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
How to keep busy while ‘social distancing’
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
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