John Oliver did a deep dive on the coronavirus on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, looking at the extreme reactions of some people to the outbreaks such as avoiding Chinese restaurants, and drinking bleach.
But first, Oliver gave the basics: “Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and preliminary estimates are that is has around a 2 percent mortality rate. The good news is that around 80 percent of those who get this virus have mild symptoms, the bad news is that means they are more likely to spread it without even realizing. That is one of the things that makes this so dangerous, and why, even though its mortality rate is much lower than that of SARS or MERS, this virus has already killed three times as many people.”
Added Oliver: “So if the stock market is tanking and people are considering gargling bleach, we thought tonight might be a good time to talk about the coronavirus: how we got to this point, what’s currently being done, and how this virus has exposed governmental vulnerabilities as it has spread around the world.”
Said Oliver: “I don’t want to be alarmist here, but I also don’t want to minimize what we could be facing. If you’re drinking bleach to protect yourself right now, you should probably calm the f**k down. If you are, say, licking subway poles because you’re certain nothing can hurt you, maybe don’t do that.”
Taking viewers around the world to show off ways different countries are reacting to the virus, Oliver noted the current lockdowns in China, where loudspeakers on street corners are telling residents not to go outside.
Said Oliver: “Holy sh*t. A talking box that tells you you can’t leave your house feels pretty dystopian. To be honest I much prefer our dystopia where a talking box listens to all our conversations and then tells Jeff Bezos when I’ll need underwear next. It’s such a convenient way to give up everything.”
Of course Oliver finally got to the United States response, noting that Trump aide Larry Kudlow was on TV telling the public that the containment was “air tight” or “pretty close to air tight.”
“Well which is it?” screeched Oliver. “Because airtight vs. close to airtight is a pretty crucial distinction. It’s the difference between having a working submarine and a cool metal tube to die in.”
Oliver also hammered Trump for putting Mike Pence in charge of the crisis because “he’s got a certain talent for this.”
“Does he? Does he though?” asked Oliver, rattling off a list of things Pence does have a talent for like “avoiding off-leash women.”
Finally, Oliver had some advice, warning people about liars trying to profit from the pandemic, like Jim Bakker, who is hawking a silver solution to kill the virus. He also warned against drinking bleach, licking subway poles.
“Don’t be complacent, and don’t be a f**king idiot.”