Kumail Nanjiani says he feels 'hopeless and helpless' in emotional tweets about pandemic, high-risk wife Emily V. Gordon

Erin Donnelly
·4 min read
Kumail Nanjiani (with wife Emily V. Gordon at the 2018 Oscars) expressed his frustrations about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
Kumail Nanjiani, seen with wife Emily V. Gordon at the 2018 Oscars, expressed his frustrations about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Kumail Nanjiani has been exercising caution, including pulling out of this year’s SXSW before the Austin festival was ultimately canceled, since the early days of the pandemic — and with good reason. The actor’s wife and screenwriting partner, Emily V. Gordon, has Still’s disease — as documented in their Oscar-nominated film, The Big Sick — and is thus considered to be in a high-risk group.

Over the past several months, the actor and comedian has used his platform to encourage fans to stay home, even partnering with Gordon to create the podcast Staying In With Emily & Kumail as a way to discuss quarantine life and raise funds for charities helping those affected by the pandemic. But eight months in, and with concerns of a fall surge taking hold, the former Silicon Valley star admitted in a lengthy, now-viral Twitter thread on Sunday that he’s feeling “hopeless and helpless.”

Nanjiani’s thread — shared by the likes of Chris Rock and Bradley Whitford — sees the Eternals star venting his frustration at leaders he says are “doing nothing and blaming us for being concerned,” as well as at naysayers who dismiss wearing masks or leaning on scientific evidence as “weakness.”

“Wearing masks is a sign of weakness,” he writes. “Protecting your friends, family, neighbors is a sign of weakness. Getting your heart broken every day by rising cases is a sign of weakness. Worrying that the next text will contain unthinkable news is a sign of weakness. Sleepless nights because what will happen if the person laying next to you in bed gets sick is a sign of weakness. Science is a sign of weakness. We could have done so much more to prevent all these losses.”

While Nanjiani doesn’t explicitly name President Trump, he makes it plain that he and Gordon feel “let down” by the president’s response to the pandemic.

“But it’s not his fault,” he tweets, seemingly referencing Trump. “It’s China’s fault. 8 months & we’re still here.”

Related: Kumail Nanjiani, Emily Gordon’s podcast brought them closer

Noting that he’s usually more optimistic, Nanjiani also acknowledged the toll the pandemic, and the prospect of a rough winter ahead, have taken on his mental health.

“I feel like I work [really] hard to keep all these doors closed in my mind, to try and keep all these scary/sad/devastating thoughts out of my head,” he says. “Focus on the positive. Donate to worthy causes. People are doing fantastic work out there. Most days it works. But not today.”

Not long after posting that thread, the actor sent a follow-up tweet reacting to White House chief of staff Mark Meadow’s comments to CNN’s Jake Tapper about how the United States is not “going to control the pandemic.”

“My dad’s friend passed away from Covid last week,” he wrote. “My wife is in an extremely high risk group. We don’t leave the house for fear of the unthinkable happening. Hey Mark Meadows: f*** you. Please take that the wrong way.”

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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