UPDATE, with video After skewering the clip of former presidential candidate Tom Steyer dancing with rapper Juvenile to his song “Back That Azz Up,” John Oliver did a deep dive into the coronavirus on Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight and how the world — specifically Donald Trump — has been responding to a virus that will more than likely spread across the world even more than it already has.
With confirmed deaths, stock markets plummeting and misinformation spreading like wildfire, there is a lot to unpack about coronavirus. First off, Oliver pointed out that you cannot get rid of the virus by gargling bleach — which is something people have been actually saying. More importantly, you cannot catch it by eating Chinese food, which is an ignorant claim.
There is a 2% mortality rate and although it may seem like a low number, it is a lot and he compares it to the number of people who disappeared in the HBO series The Leftovers. “A 2% mortality rate would be about 20 times higher than the seasonal flu,” said Oliver. He points out that while the good news is 80% of people with the virus have mild symptoms, the bad news is they are more likely to spread it without realizing it. One expert said 40-70% world population would be infected within the year, and Oliver jokes that the only disease two-thirds of the population should be getting is “Adam Driver fever”.
He then goes on to talk about how there have been varying degrees of success around the world in handling the coronavirus. China has had containment, but the death toll has reached 2,700 around the world. Oliver gives props to Vietnam for releasing a PSA with a catchy song that encourages people and teaches them to wash their hands correctly. He also pointed out how the coronavirus quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship was an utter failure as he called the ship a “floating petri dish.” He added, “You might as well have held them in a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit.”
Then he finally got to the United States’ response. “The White House messaging has been all over the place,” Oliver said, pointing out that one of Trump’s advisors said that they have contained it…or “pretty close to airtight” when it comes to containing it. Just when you think they are sending mixed messages, Donald Trump puts Mike Pence in charge of leading a task force on the virus because he apparently has a “certain talent for this.”
“Does he though?” Oliver questions. “I was under the impression that the only thing Pence had a certain talent for were avoiding off-leash women, sucking up to people who represent the antithesis of everything he claims to believe in, and miserably failing at a haircut known as the Judi Dench.”
Things got even more confusing during a press conference when Trump just left as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who should be leading the task force, tried to explain that he is not being replaced.
Oliver points out that Trump is downplaying any bad news and tweeted that the coronavirus was under control. He’s reluctant to admit that there will be more cases in the U.S. During the press conference, Trump’s experts blatantly said that cases will go up while he said they are going down.
“This is the problem with a president whose entire life has been a series of low stakes lies,” Oliver explains. “A man who has lied about — among other things — his net worth, his Apprentice ratings, the number floors in Trump tower, the size of his electoral college victory, the attendance at his rallies, whether it rained at his inauguration and whether or not he was invited to this very boring, low-rated show — which he wasn’t! It was a lie!”
Trump continued to pedal false hope when he said that the warmer weather in April will kill the virus and said that it was a “beautiful” thing to look forward to.
A creeped out Oliver commented, “First, never call calendar dates beautiful.” He added, “I don’t know how he did it but I am pretty sure he sexually harassed the month of April.”
“This is a bad time to have a president who cannot speak clearly,” Oliver declared and called out Fox News for amplifying Trump’s false claims
Oliver broke it down and said that we should be a bit scared — but not wildly scared. He urged us to not be complacent and to not be a “f*cking idiot.” We should sit somewhere in between those two. In the meantime, we should follow three basic rules: don’t be racist, don’t hoard masks and check the CDC website for updates.
He then ended with a joyous callback to the catchy Vietnamese “wash your hands” PSA.
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