Ellen DeGeneres sparks backlash with coronavirus ‘jail’ joke

Ellen DeGeneres attends the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 5, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Ellen DeGeneres has drawn backlash after she compared being quarantined in her mansion during the coronavirus pandemic to “being in jail.”

DeGeneres is currently filming The Ellen Show from her house and made the “jail” comment during her broadcast on Monday.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus around the world: April 8, 2020'
Coronavirus around the world: April 8, 2020

“Today, I am filming this in my living room because it has the best light and sound and all the other rooms in my house are filled with toilet paper,” DeGeneres said.

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“One thing that I’ve learned from being in quarantine is that people — this is like being in jail, is what it is,” she said. “It’s mostly because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for 10 days and everyone in here is gay.”

The video is now unavailable on DeGeneres’ YouTube channel following the backlash the comedian received.

Many people who watched the video took to Twitter to call DeGeneres’s comments “tone-deaf.”

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In March, DeGeneres shared a message of positivity with her fans after suspending production on her hit talk show due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“These are trying times, but just remember that we’re all in this together. Spread love, be kind, and just keep swimming,” DeGeneres captioned the video.

“Hi everybody, I want to send a video about love and kindness and being gentle,” DeGeneres began.

DeGeneres said the “one thing we can all learn from what we’re going through right now” is that “we’re all in the same boat.”

“We’re all vulnerable and at-risk and it doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, who you are, what colour your skin is, what religion you are,” she said.

“So that’s what I hope we get from this and that’s it. And that’s it, just sending love.

“I have fish and they don’t know anything is going on,” DeGeneres said as she panned the camera over to her fish pond. “They’re completely happy, they don’t care. Just swimming around because you know what their motto is, ‘Just keep swimming.’ That’s right, oh boy!”

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DeGeneres has not responded to the backlash over her “jail” joke as of this writing.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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