One week after urging the country not to vote for money-burning billionaire Mike Bloomberg, a man with “big virgin energy” who’s spent over $400 million to try to capture the Democratic presidential nomination, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver took on the biggest news of the past month: the rapid spread of coronavirus.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control warned Americans last week that it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” coronavirus will spread across the United States, and there have now been 88 reported cases of coronavirus stateside—and two deaths.
The ensuing coronavirus hysteria has led to some truly bizarre media coverage of the pandemic, including the anchors of Good Day New York wondering: “Can you get the coronavirus by eating Chinese food?”
“No, you can’t! Of course you can’t get the coronavirus from eating Chinese food!” shouted Oliver. “In fact, if you’re eating at a Panda Express, you can’t even get Chinese food from eating Chinese food.”
The HBO host went on to explain how COVID-19 is the strain of coronavirus, and comes with a two percent mortality rate. While many, including MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and President Trump, have downplayed this mortality rate, Oliver argued otherwise.
“Two percent of people is a lot when you’re talking about those people dying,” he said. “Think about it this way: two percent of people disappearing was literally the premise of The Leftovers.”
According to an article in The Atlantic, Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch claimed that coronavirus will “not be containable,” and that 40 to 70 percent of people across the world will be infected within a year—though, he added, most of those cases won’t be deadly or even show any symptoms. And thus far, coronavirus has resulted in 3,000 deaths and infected upwards of 88,000 people across 60 countries.
“Trust in institutions is critical when trying to contain a possible pandemic, and unfortunately, that brings is to the United States’ response to this virus—and specifically to this guy [Trump], because the White House’s messaging has been all over the place this week,” offered Oliver.
Yes, on Tuesday, the same day the CDC claimed that it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” coronavirus spreads throughout America, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow, one of the people (inexplicably) on the White House’s coronavirus task force, told the American people “we have contained this.”
“The dissonance there speaks to a real problem, because in a global health emergency, you want to hear from the many trained experts who we’re lucky enough to have working in our nation’s public health agencies. You do not want to hear from politicians,” said Oliver.
Then, Oliver addressed President Trump’s astonishing “lack of leadership” concerning coronavirus, from walking out of “a press conference meant to calm the nation” to repeatedly claiming that the virus would be going away “in April” due to the “hot weather.”
“This is a bad time to have a president who cannot speak clearly, because there is already enough bad information flying around, and the president’s favorite channel has been a particular offender here,” said Oliver. “Fox [News] anchors and guests have repeatedly amplified false claims, from the theory that the virus was created in a Chinese bioweapons lab, to the internet rumor that it came from Chinese people eating bat soup.”
“The truth is,” he continued, “while clinical trials are underway, there is no treatment for the coronavirus at the moment… How scared should you be? A bit.”
Oliver then offered four valuable recommendations for how to handle coronavirus:
1) Don’t be racist
2) Don’t hoard masks
3) Check the CDC website
4) Wash your hands
Take notes, people.
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