Oprah: ‘It’s too soon to be removing masks from planes’

Oprah has a new interview with the LA Times to promote her Smithsonian Channel documentary The Color of Care, about how the pandemic laid bare the racial inequalities in the for-profit US healthcare system. We’ve heard that Oprah has been incredibly safe about the pandemic, she’s been open about how careful she is and Gayle King has talked about it too. Oprah describes that in her LA Times interview in detail, saying that she didn’t leave the house for nearly a year. Oprah’s knowledge of how the covid pandemic disproportionately affected communities of color led her to create this documentary. She’s careful to say that she knows she’s privileged and that it gives her an advantage in seeking healthcare. Oprah has stratospheric wealth and fame. She said she was most surprised to learn that money and good health insurance do not protect against racial disparities in treatment. I’m reminded of Serena Williams’ harrowing story of having to advocate for herselflost her father to covid earlier this year.

On the US handling of the covid pandemic
I am appalled, I am stunned. I don’t recognize a country where you’ve lost nearly a million people and there hasn’t been some form of remembering that is significant. Not at the opening of a speech or mentioning in a State of the Union. I mean that there hasn’t been a communal gathering where there is acknowledgment that this has happened to us. Who are we that there is no acknowledgment, profoundly, in our society that we have lost our loved ones? And at times, we’re not even able to bury our dead. Who are we that we don’t recognize the significance of that acknowledgment?

On what she learned seeking a diagnosis
You need multiple opinions and you need somebody advocating for you. I don’t care who you are. I would never go into a hospital by myself. Even as a person of note, with a name, I would never go into a hospital by myself. I would always have somebody go with me who’s advocating for me. That’s a hard, hard road to navigate by yourself, especially if you’re ill.

Her biggest misconception about racial health disparities
I think my biggest misconception was that it was about health insurance, that it was about having access financially, and if you didn’t have the money, then you couldn’t get the care that you needed. What COVID laid bare is that inequities in so many other areas of your life also contribute to the major disparity when it comes to healthcare.

On masks no longer being required on planes
I just heard today that masks are being taken off the planes and people cheering. Well, that will not be me. I personally think it’s too soon to be removing masks from planes. But that’s what people choose to do. And if I were on a commercial plane, I would be one of the people who would still be wearing my mask. And I would be one of the people still wearing my masks in an enclosed building with people who I didn’t know if they were or were not vaccinated. But that is just me. And I certainly accept that there are other people who disagree. I’m OK with that as long as I can wear mine. And so people who look at me cross-eyed when I do, OK.

[From The LA Times]

I appreciate Oprah for being unapologetically outspoken about deeply important issues like the pandemic and the treatment of Black Americans and for creating this documentary. She’s so right that it’s too soon to be removing masks in enclosed spaces, and that it’s appalling that a million people have died (officially, I’m sure it’s more) from covid yet that we’re not remembering them in a more significant way. The Biden administration tried, they had a lovely ceremony early last year, before the vaccines were widely available and when the death toll was at 500,000. There were white flags on the National Mall from September 17 to October 3, 2021, commemorating the then-600,000 victims. Would there even be enough room for a million flags? We need a monument at least.

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21 Responses to “Oprah: ‘It’s too soon to be removing masks from planes’”

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  1. Amy Bee says:

    I’m going to be wearing masks on the plane even after the pandemic is over.

    • T3PO says:

      Airplane mask advocate long before covid here. But Oprah is right. There are legitimately people who cannot get the vaccine due to immune issues. All these private companies are saying those people are worth killing for the perceived convenience of seeing a mouth. It’s so stupid and gross how our society choses to not value others needs.

    • Danbury says:

      Me too. I just took a return flight – I was one of the only masked people on the plane. It gave me anxiety to even think about taking it off. I honestly think masking is just part of my future when I travel now.

    • BrainFog 💉💉💉😷 says:

      … and in the supermarket, and in the trains. If they let us. Multiple friends report witnessing people being assaulted over wearing masks (UK and Germany).

      • ME says:

        I just can’t seem to understand why someone else wearing a mask would make a person angry? How is it affecting them? Oh yeah, it reminds them Covid is real and we are still in a pandemic…something they want to ignore.

    • Mel says:

      I’m wearing my mask on all forms of public transportation, in supermarkets , movie theaters, anywhere where I’ll be indoors with other people for the rest of my life. The old folks in NYC’s Chinatown were on to something and I was too dumb to know until this happened.

      • Christine says:

        That is exactly where I am too. People were wearing masks in Koreatown in LA for decades before Covid. They were so much smarter than the rest of us.

  2. ME says:

    It’s too soon to be removing masks period.

  3. Polo says:

    I travel a lot and still wear my mask on the plane and will keep doing so for the foreseeable future.
    Was just in Dallas airport and wasn’t nearly as many as compared to flying out of Newark where I would say 70% were wearing masks.

  4. Lolalola says:

    Me too. I live in Paris and you still have to wear masks on public transportation which I think is great. I wish that would never go away. Planes, abso-f—king lootly!

  5. Emma says:

    The triumph of the Republican war on reason and science.

    If there is a monument, let it be better and simpler healthcare in this country. Healthcare access is so impossibly fraught and expensive right now.

    I have kinda decent healthcare through work and I still have to pay $100+ every time I go to the doctor that isn’t for an annual checkup. Many people would find that hard to afford. I do.

  6. Che Che says:

    I’m so glad she is using her platform to address inequities in healthcare. Having experienced the issue personally, I applaud Oprah for her stance despite her wealth. I had great health insurance during a medical crisis and the nurses and doctors overbilled me and used my benefits on poorer patients.My issue wasn’t helping the poor and uninsured,it was the poor care I received and the racism that went along with the lack of service. Filing complaints wasn’t enough – the systemic racism continues to flourish.

    • Barrett says:

      I’m happy ab her using the platform for healthcare inequality. Race is important and so is gender. As a woman I did not get an endometriosis diagnosis until I was 37. Then PCOS/thyroid age 46. I saw so many physicians. Now I have been losing function of part of my Digestive system but complaining ab it since 2011 (when it started slowly). It was finally diagnosed 6 GI doctors later w a transit motility test.

      Do you know how many times I was asked if it was all in my head by a male physician? One said when I said my pain was increasing- you need to learn to live w pain!

      You need an advocate. You need constant 2nd opinions.

  7. ML says:

    Thank you, Oprah, and thank you Celebitchy for covering this.
    Planes: I just returned to Europe from the US (it was my third trip this year). In February most people were masked in the airport and on the plane. In March many people were. In April, most people were not, and many people who were initially masked, removed the protection when they left the passport control areas. If you are vulnerable, please be aware of this.
    Hospitals: my parents have been in and out of hospitals and rehab most of 2022. Most medical personnel are wonderful people who want the best for their patients, but they are understaffed, overworked, and in many cases, underpaid. What Oprah said about never going into a hospital alone is 100% true! People who are alone do not get as decent care as people who have someone watching over them. Getting water, warning someone if your parent has a seizure, asking questions regarding treatments…when I was there so much more was possible.

  8. Case says:

    It has been a stunning experience to see how little society cares about the disabled, immune-compromised, elderly, and the littlest who cannot yet get vaccinated. I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone every day now as we’re gaslit into feeling like we should just forget about the pandemic that we are STILL ACTIVELY IN.

  9. Jonesy says:

    It is too soon to remove the mask mandates on mass public transportation. Nonetheless, I will keep wearing my mask should I have to use public transportation.

  10. I'm With The Band says:

    I’ve been masking up everywhere I go for a while, and we’ve remained COVID free in our house. Then I let my guard down at a busy shopping centre, forgot to bring a mask with me, and now I’m on day 5 of a COVID infection. Masks work people. I’m just glad I’m double-vaxxed and boosted. The shortness of breath is no joke.

  11. RMSchrey says:

    As one of those immune-compromised patients whose life is being written off by people at large, a personal thank you to everyone that continues to mask and take precautions. Every last one of us frequent flyers at cancer centers thank you. When I read about the machiavellian maneuvers that China is going through to create a covid-zero country, I wonder what they know and are not telling the rest of the world. F**k around with covid and find out, I suppose…

  12. Lisa says:

    Thank you Ms Oprah. Autoimmune compromised and on a biologic so masks forever. I work in the medical field and could go on & on about the things I’ve seen. The hospital I work for now is pretty good but I worked for a wealthy people hospital in California desert and it’s horrible, you pay to play employee or not. I could go on & on.
    As a kid I’m mixed & my little white mom would take me to the. doctor and they all told her I was a hypochondriac, turns out I had juvenile Ra, my dad got a big dose of agent orange and it’s now speculated that’s why I’m oldest. I have horrible psoriasis especially as a kid from 2 on, I had no childhood advocate my dad always worked & my mom had her issues. An advocate is really important. I could go on & on just about my immediate family.

  13. DragonWise says:

    My sister and her wife who are both vaccinated and boosted tested positive after a plane ride, so there’s no way I’m skipping the mask! Thankfully, likely due to their vaccinations, their symptoms have been mild, but it’s still scary!