Ellen DeGeneres has been criticised after comparing quarantine in her multimillion-dollar mansion to “being in jail”.
The American television host made the comment during a virtual show filmed by her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, from one of their California homes after her talk show was taken off air due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“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.
DeGeneres, who made the show from an armchair looking out on vast, grassy lawns and mountains, added: “It’s mostly because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for 10 days and everyone in here is gay.”
Despite praising health workers and others on the front line battling COVID-19, some viewers described the host’s comments as “tone deaf” and “insensitive”.
One wrote: “Sitting inside her fifteen million dollar mansion complaining and comparing it to a prison, very tone deaf ellen.”
The 62-year-old comedian’s comments come at a time when an increasing number of inmates are testing positive for coronavirus across the US.
The video was originally posted onto The Ellen Show’s YouTube channel on Monday but was re-uploaded on Wednesday with the offending comments edited out.
:: Listen to the Backstage podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
More than 280 inmates and 400 staff in New York prisons have been infected with COVID-19 and at least seven people have died, according to the New York Department of Corrections.
In Chicago, around 230 detainees in Cook County jails have tested positive for the virus, along with 92 staff members.
Coronavirus-related deaths have among prison inmates have also been reported in Louisiana.
“I think we can all agree that what Ellen said was insensitive… She says ‘prison’ while on her multi-acre property in her multi-million dollar mansion, on her lavish couch with her well-fed dogs. Nothing like the rich pretending they’re poor and suffering,” one Twitter user said.
Another wrote: “Hey @TheEllenShow, prisoners across this country are trapped in 24-hour quarantine in cells that are probably about the size of one of your showers & others are sleeping 3 feet away from sick inmates. And they’re dying. You aren’t experiencing anything close to prison.”
Others defended the star, with one person commenting: “I’m so sick of people coming for celebrities like @TheEllenShow. Ellen and every celebrity who also feels like they’re ‘in jail’ have a work ethic that will blow your mind. Sitting on the couch every day like most of y’all is new to them.”
The backlash was the latest example of celebrities being accused of being out of touch as the pandemic puts millions of Americans out of work and causes some 14,000 deaths.
Last month, actress Gal Gadot was criticised for leading a celebrity-packed singalong of John Lennon’s Imagine in a bid to cheer people up.
Some social media usersdubbed the video as “cringe as celebrities including Gadot, Natalie Portman and Will Ferrell sang about imagining no possessions.