CNN host Don Lemon told Americans who have not yet gotten the COVID-19 vaccination that they are “selfish” and should refrain from seeking lifesaving medical treatment if they fall ill.
In a fit of pique, Lemon began shouting as he discussed the issue with fellow CNN talk show host Chris Cuomo at the beginning of Tuesday’s “Don Lemon Tonight.”
The discussion came shortly after Cuomo apologized for running over his allotted time during the hand-off between the two shows at 10 p.m. Eastern. His show closed with the heartrending story of a woman who died of cancer after she could not receive treatment, due to the stress that COVID-19 put on the medical system.
“Listen, here is how I feel about that,” Lemon told Cuomo. “If you’re not going to get vaccinated, you don’t want to social distance, you don’t want to wear a mask, then maybe you don’t want to go to the hospital when you get sick.”
“I know that sounds harsh,” he continued, “but you’re taking up the space for people who are doing things the right way.”
After Cuomo attempted to turn the spotlight back to the couple he highlighted at the end of his show, Lemon began to rant that Americans who are not yet fully vaccinated should not receive medical treatment for the effects of the coronavirus.
The decision not to take the COVID-19 vaccination “is putting a stress and strain on the system and people all over this country, because some people who are so selfish are saying, ‘It’s my freedom, and I don’t want to get vaccinated.’ OK, fine. But think about someone other than yourself.”
And if you don’t believe that COVID is real and that it can affect your health and possibly take your life, don’t go to the hospital then when you get sick! Don’t take up the resources from other people who are playing by the rules, getting vaccinated, social distancing and putting their lives on the line to try to take care of the people who are there. That’s all I’m saying. That’s how I feel. And I don’t apologize.
Chris Cuomo nodded along approvingly before adding, “I love you, D. Lemon.”
— The Recount (@therecount) September 1, 2021
His remarks drew rapid criticism. A New York Catholic radio affiliate assessed that Lemon’s rhetoric amounted to “dehumanizing people” and “causing hatred and division.”
Dehumanizing people is evil
‘Don’t take up resources!’ – @donlemon
It is causing hatred & division. This type of harmful rhetoric must end
Pray for our country 🙏✝️ https://t.co/it7aadE4iS
— NYCatholicRadio (@NYCatholicRadio) September 1, 2021
Healthcare rationing is a reality in countries with a national healthcare system. The U.K.’s National Health System, or NHS, regularly denies routine medical care to people who are overweight or who smoke.
The NHS allowed a 56-year-old woman to suffer from gallstones for approximately two months before placing her on the 16-week waiting list, because she was overweight according to the Body Mass Index chart. When she went to see her doctor in November 2019, he “informed me that, because of my BMI, I couldn’t even be referred to my local hospital for further treatment as the referral wouldn’t be accepted,” she told a U.K. newspaper. She was eventually scheduled to be “treated by late May, nearly 14 months after her symptoms first started,” the paper reported.
There has been no word on how the NHS’s strict COVID-19 healthcare rationing affected her surgery.
Healthcare rationers targeted overweight people and smokers as “soft targets for NHS savings,” according to a 2016 report from the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
That report found that refusing overweight people access to hip and knee surgeries, hernia surgeries, and/or tonsillectomies based on their Body Mass Index had already become the norm in roughly one-third of the regulatory bodies that determine which procedures are available to patients through their local NHS, known as clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
At the time, some healthcare providers linked the NHS’s denial of treatment to racial discrimination.
“They [the patients] are trying to lose weight in the vast majority of cases and to deny them treatment that they need on the basis of their weight, without then offering them effective help to help them lose weight is rather like discriminating [against] a segment of the population on the basis of their colour or religious persuasion,” British bariatric surgeon Shaw Somers told The Guardian in 2016.