On Tuesday, Howie Mandel showed up to his job at America's Got Talent wearing a hazmat suit, complete with gas mask. While the comedian offered no comment, he's been open about discussing his fear of germs, which stems from his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Given the ongoing concerns about the coronavirus, which has led to festival cancelations, postponements and major film delays, it's likely that was the concern for Mandel's choice of wardrobe.
Once the story started making the rounds, however, instead of making light of the situation, a number of Mandel's fans came to his defense. Given his condition, many were quick to point out that despite Mandel's sense of humor, his concerns right now are likely very real.
'The Understatement of the Year'
To say howie mandell is a germaphobe is the understatement of the year. He has severe OCD and has been in treatment to try and cope with it, so that he can live with it without it debilitating his day to day life. A pandemic for someone like Howie is beyond horrifying.— A Stable Genie (@AGenieSaysWhat) March 11, 2020
Mandel has opened up about his condition in the past, including to 20/20 back in 2009, when he said that he felt like he "always on the verge of death in my head."
'It's Probably Not a Joke'
For anyone who doesn't know, Howie Mandel has serious OCD/Germaphobe condition. So no, it's probably not a joke.— Stilez (@stilez) March 10, 2020
Given Mandel's frankness about his germ anxiety, seeing the real-life repercussions was a sobering moment for some.
'A Super Trigger'
Tbh this is nothing to joke about. The man has always had germaphobia. I wouldn't be surprised at all he's wearing this because of this bs going on. It's a super trigger.— Stephanie (@StephP0214) March 11, 2020
In that same 2009 interview, Mandel admitted, "The biggest fear I have is being triggered. And if I'm triggered and I get some sort of weird thought in my head that can't go, then my day is, is stopped. My life stops."
'No Joke to Him at All'
He’s always had issues with germs. Doesn’t like shaking hands, etc. Probably already had his basement stocked with supplies. No joke to him at all. 🤷🏽♀️— Deborah Taylor (@neshea1) March 10, 2020
While it's unclear exactly how prepared Mandel is for a potential pandemic, he was spotted at the DMV on Monday. At the time, his biggest concern seemed to be where he needed to get in line.
'A Germaphobe for Several Years'
I have known about Howie being a germaphobe for several years but if this is an attempt at humor the family members of those who have passed might not think it's funny.— calvinsfatdaddy🔜@the salad bar (@bnfl_chris) March 11, 2020
Others pointed out that given the severity of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 110,000 people worldwide at this point, meant that it wasn't a joking matter at all.