- Everyday Americans are having a hard time getting tested for the coronavirus, but celebrities don’t seem to be facing the same troubles.
- Kris Jenner, NBA athletes, and influencers have all been able to get tested, in many cases, without showing any symptoms.
- Meanwhile, in hospitals all over the country, severely ill patients are being told there are simply not enough tests.
- This has led to a large online discussion about inequality and the impact it’s had on the severity of this pandemic.
The NBA’s Advantage
While the general American public is struggling to get tested for the novel coronavirus, celebrities seem to have easy access to tests.
According to NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, eight full teams have been tested for COVID-19. The Brooklyn Nets, for instance, were just one of several teams who faced backlash for their ability to get a large number of tests and speedy results.
The Nets announced Tuesday that four players, including Kevin Durant, tested positive for the virus. Three of those four players displayed no symptoms.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that wealthy athletes who show no symptoms should not have ready access to these tests while severely ill people all over the country cannot get their hands on them.
The Nets have defended their ability to test players, saying that their close proximity and frequent travel justifies the need for testing. They also said they acquired the test privately as to not strain the CDC of its public resources.
During a press conference, President Donald Trump was asked about large quantities of NBA players so easily getting the tests, and whether or not this was fair.
“No I wouldn’t say so,” he responded. “But perhaps that’s been the story of life.”
Celebrities Find Tests
Athletes are not alone in having an easy time getting tested, with or without symptoms. Reality star Kris Jenner told Entertainment Tonight that she tested negative, after receiving one despite feeling just fine.
Jenner had previously attended the birthday party of someone who contracted the virus. That party, however, was 16 days before Jenner announced she took the test.
Actor Idris Elba also took the test without symptoms, though it is unclear if he was tested in the United States, where the public has been specifically feeling the impacts of a lack of testing.
Not all stars who had access to tests were asymptomatic. New York-based fashion influencer Arielle Charnas told her Instagram followers that she had been feeling ill herself. She was able to call on her friend, Dr. Jake Deutsch, who is the founder of an urgent care network.
Her test came back positive, but it was that connection to a higher-up medical professional that helped her finally learn that result.
Some celebrities have had to jump through hoops to get their tests. Model and host Heidi Klum said she had symptoms that were in line with coronavirus, but was told by two doctors she could not be tested. Not long after her messages were shared, she was able to update her followers that both she and her husband were tested. Some believe her far reach online could have given her an advantage in getting those tests.
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Like many of you, I also have been sick all week and, unfortunately, my husband who returned from his tour a couple of days ago is also feeling ill. To be safe, we are staying apart until we get the results of our Coronavirus tests (that we were finally able to get today) back. We don’t want to spread germs and risk others getting sicker… even each other! As much as I want to embrace him and kiss him, it is more important to do the right thing and not spread further. ❤️ These are strange times… but in these moments, you remember what’s really important- the people you love and keeping them safe. Social distancing is what we all need to do right now to be responsible citizens of the world. We are all in this together and it is up to us to protect our loved ones, and our neighbors and our communities. Please listen to the officials and stay at home if you can and physically distance yourself from other people… especially if you are not feeling well. I see all the beautiful things people are doing for each other all over the globe and that gives me hope! Sending all of you love and positivity and healing vibes… together we can get through this but we need to be proactive so that we can all have a bright and healthy future. 🥰😷✌🏻🧼❤️ #socialdistancing #washyourhands #stayput #bekindtoeachother
Everyday People Struggle
The dynamic of the wealthy and famous seemingly being able to use their status to get this medical care has ignited outrage online. The rest of the public is dealing with severe shortages of tests, no matter how sick they are.
One Twitter user said their brother had respiratory problems and a high fever but was told to simply quarantine because there are not enough tests.
Others have just wondered how celebrities without symptoms can get tests if there is a nationwide shortage.
Doctors have also chimed in, saying that it is frustrating to see their patients struggling while celebrities are not.
BuzzFeed compiled tweets and photos from those facing difficulties in hospitals to make a startling comparison to the breezier situations of the elite. Some Twitter users posted photos of them in hospital beds, looking ill, but still being denied testing.
I’m sitting in a hospital bed possibly with #COVID19 and I can’t get tested even though the entire nursing and doctor staff thinks I should. It’s not the hospitals.@jaketapper @RepSteveStivers @senrobportman @SenSherrodBrown pic.twitter.com/5KtXoLWgjU— Rob Michaels (@robmichaelsII) March 17, 2020
Meanwhile, people like Charles Barkley has people telling him “they didn’t want [him] to take any chances,” resulting in him getting quickly tested.
And he’s not alone, other reality stars, influencers, and even politicians are able to find tests for themselves, while everyone else is told that there are just not enough. Some have acknowledged this, with Charnas addressing her privilege on Instagram.
“I realize that there are many individuals, both in New York City and nationwide, who do not have the ability to receive immediate medical care,” she wrote. “I acknowledge how lucky I am to have had that access.”
Priyanka Chopra Jonas Says “The Activist” Reality Series “Got It Wrong”
The controversial series is now being reworked into a documentary, which Chopra Jonas hopes will better “highlight the actions and impact” of global activists.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas Apologizes For “The Activist”
Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas responded to controversies surrounding “The Activist,” a CBS reality competition series she was slated to co-host that is now being reworked following widespread backlash.
“The Activist” was going to show real activists competing against one another in various challenges in an effort to promote their philanthropic causes. After many expressed disgust at the premise, CBS said it would scrap the footage already shot and turn the idea into a one-time documentary special highlighting the work and impacts of different activists.
“The show got it wrong, and I’m sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you,” Chopra Jonas wrote on Instagram. “The intention was always to bring attention to the people behind the ideas and highlight the actions and impact of the causes they support tirelessly. I’m happy that in this new format, their stories will be the highlight.”
“I’m proud to collaborate with partners who have their ear to the ground and know when it’s time to hit pause and re-evaluate,” she added.
Chopra Jonas closed her post by thanking the “global community of activists” for their hard work, which often goes unacknowledged.
Controversies Surrounding “The Activist”
Musician Usher and dancer Julianne Hough were cast to host alongside Chopra Jonas. After a release announcing the show and their casting went out last week, it was slammed online by activists and journalists alike.
Actress and activist Jameela Jamil wrote that the network would have been better off donating the presumably large production costs to charity instead of “turning activism into a game.”
Women’s activist Gina Martin thought turning charity into a competition was counterintuitive, arguing “the whole *essense* of activism is solidarity and community.”
Writers from The Verge, The Washington Post, Essence, and countless other outlets likewise published pieces slamming the program. The Post’s Michele L. Norris accused CBS of “trying to capitalize on the current avalanche of doom in the daily news cycle.”
Norris added that the show’s “prize,” which was to attend the G20 summit in Italy, boiled down to activists fighting “merely for the right to crash an international conference and try to shake down world leaders for cash.”
Responses From Those Involved
Chopra Jonas is not the only host to address the criticism. Before the idea was canned, Hough wrote a lengthy Instagram post saying she was listening to the dialogue regarding the program.
“There is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt,” she wrote.
“I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge,” she added, though she stopped short of actually stepping down from the gig.
CBS ended up releasing a joint statement with Global Citizen and Live Nation acknowledging the failings of the concept.
“It has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day,” the statement said. “The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.”
The statement said the new documentary will “showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in” without any competitive element.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (Vanity Fair) (BBC News)
Health Officials in the U.S. and Trinidad Shut Down Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Claims
After the rapper claimed her cousin’s friend had severe side effects from the vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci said she should be “thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis.”
Health Officials Condemn Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Statement
Health officials in the United States and Trinidad and Tobago are refuting claims rapper Nicki Minaj made this week suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines can lead to testicular swelling.
“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent,” Minaj tweeted Monday. “His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.”
The symptoms Minaj described in the tweet about her cousin’s friend fall more in line with those of various sexually transmitted diseases. The CDC has repeatedly noted that there is “currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.”
International health officials doubled down on this after Minaj’s remarks went viral. Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh, the Health Minister for Trinidad and Tobago, said his department takes every claim of this nature seriously and found no proof that Minaj’s anecdote was true after spending hours thoroughly researching it.
“Unfortunately, we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday.
“As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or, I dare say anywhere else?” he continued. “None that we know of anywhere in the world.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s leading infectious disease expert, likewise debunked Minaj’s story while speaking to CNN.
“She should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis, except a one-off anecdote, and that’s not what science is all about,” Dr. Fauci told Jake Tapper this week.
Nicki Minaj Claims She Received Invite to Discuss Vaccines at the White House
As vaccine misinformation continues to spread and elongate the pandemic, the Biden administration has unveiled several efforts to instill trust in the science behind it. Minaj claimed Wednesday she was invited to the White House to discuss the vaccine and ask questions on behalf of those who need convincing.
A White House official, however, claimed that she was not offered a trip but rather a call with “one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.” Minaj slammed the White House on Instagram Wednesday night for undercutting her claim.
“Do you think I’d go on the internet and lie about being invited to the fucking White House?” she said in a 14-minute video. “Like, what?!”
“You know what the request was? ‘We’d like to offer Nicki an invitation to come to the White House to speak with two people,” she continued. “With, what is that man’s name? Dr. Fauci? And with the Surgeon General.”
Minaj said that when she expressed concerns about traveling, they offered the chance to also do a live chat on the social media platform of her choice. Throughout the remainder of her video, she repeatedly made startling claims suggesting the media was targeting an attack on her to make her look dumb so people would stop asking questions about the vaccine.
By Thursday, that video had been viewed over 1.6 million times. “I Stand With Nicki” trended on Twitter Thursday as some claimed the media has twisted her words, while others slammed her fanbase for supporting the rapper as she promoted misinformation.
See what others are saying: (Complex) (New York Times) (The Guardian)
Julianne Hough Responds to Criticism Over “The Activist” Reality Series
Many slammed the show for belittling activism efforts all over the world, and Hough said their feelings of “insult, dehumanization, insensitivity, and hurt” are justified.
Julianne Hough Responds to Criticism
Julianna Hough, one of several hosts on the upcoming CBS reality competition series “The Activist,” said Tuesday that the growing outrage against the show is “rightfully felt.”
According to Deadline, the series will follow six real activists that are “teamed with three high-profile public figures” as they fight for three major global causes: health, education, and the environment. Those activists will “go head-to-head in challenges to promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ input.” Musician Usher and actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas will serve as hosts along with Hough.
The activists’ goal is to amplify their message and then advance to the G20 Summit in Italy so they can raise funding and awareness for their causes, but the premise left a sour taste in many peoples’ mouths. Some argued that it was degrading to make activists compete on a stage for resources and attention, while others thought the celebrity hosts were not suited for a show about philanthropy.
On Tuesday, Hough acknowledged those complaints in a lengthy post on Instagram. She said she is listening to them “with an open heart and mind.”
“There is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt,” she wrote before admitting that she is not an activist and is not qualified to host the program. Hough stopped short of stepping down from the series.
“I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge.”
Hough mentioned the controversy she sparked in 2013 after wearing blackface as part of a costume. She noted that this likely added “insult to injury” regarding her casting and apologized again for the incident. Still, she said that she felt compelled to join the series so she could “be a part of something that highlights and is centered around sharing activists’ work on a larger platform.”
“I felt it would help educate, mobilize, and inspire people around the world to get involved in activism because so many worthy causes need attention, funding, and most importantly, the power to effect real change,” she added.
Hough is not the only person to respond to the outrage the show sparked. A spokesperson for Global Citizen, an international advocacy group co-producing the show, released a statement to Deadline defending the series.
“The Activist spotlights individuals who’ve made it their life’s work to change the world for the better, as well as the incredible and often challenging work they do on the ground in their communities,” the spokesperson said. “This is not a reality show to trivialize activism. On the contrary, our aim is to support activists everywhere, show the ingenuity and dedication they put into their work, and amplify their causes to an even wider audience.”
Backlash Against “The Activist”
Criticisms against the show started rolling in on Twitter after a press release announcing the series and its hosts was published on Sept. 9. Many, including real-world activists, were quick to express their concerns over the series.
“Couldn’t they just give the money it’s going to take to pay this UNBELIEVABLY expensive talent and make this show, directly to activist causes? Rather than turning activism into a game,” wrote activist and actress Jameela Jamil.
British women’s activist Gina Martin slammed the decision to cast Usher, Chopra-Jonas, and Hough as the hosts.
“Why the hell is there a TV show that turns activist into a competition when the whole *essense* of activism is solidarity and community?” Martin added. “This is the absolute worst.”
Others called the series “performative” and “horrific.” Nabilah Islam, a progressive organizer and former Georgia congressional candidate, argued that activism is difficult enough “without having to dance and sing for a bunch of millionaires while they decide who’s worthy of their crumbs.”
“The Activist” is currently slated to debut on October 22 and air for five weeks. It is unclear if CBS will be amending the show’s rollout following the ongoing criticisms.