“This was the week that the coronavirus, for many people in the U.S. seemed to go from an abstraction to a very real threat,” John Oliver said at the start of the March 15 episode of his HBO late night talk show “Last Week Tonight.” It was the last episode of Oliver’s show before it takes an indefinite hiatus because of the coronavirus outbreak. Oliver taped the episode without a live studio audience and with a reduced crew. The host continued, “We are clearly in the midst of a rapidly escalating outbreak. It’s difficult to say where things stand.”
Oliver spent a majority of the March 15 “Last Week Tonight” slamming Donald Trump for his lackluster response to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. As Oliver explained, “Despite what Trump says, tests are not available in most places to those who need them. Which means we can’t properly track the virus or know how quickly it is spreading. That’s not only catastrophic because we are having to fly blind in fighting this pandemic, it’s also deeply frustrating especially when you see how countries like South Korea ramped up their testing capabilities.”
Trump’s response to the coronavirus has been a “complete mess” because of all the lies he has told the American people, Oliver argues. “He managed to mistakenly claim that imports from Europe were being cut off, which they were not,” the host said. “[He said] that insurers would waive copays not just for testing but for treatment which at present, they wont; and he seemed to imply that Americans in Europe could not get back into the country, which they can.”
When the show cut to a clip of Trump saying everything is “just fine,” Oliver snapped back, “Nothing is fine here. The president’s response has sadly been characterized by disorganization and lies.”
“This is frustrating and extremely unnerving and it is actively contributing to a sense of confusion in the country,” Oliver continued. “It may be best to put the president aside — don’t worry, there is going to be ample time to be utterly furious with him later — but the fact is, even though this should not be the case, it seems we’re going to be a little bit on our own here and because of that, it might be worth going over some basic rules that health experts say we should all absolutely be following to help stem this outbreak…Try your best to tune out and not pass on misinformation in the upcoming weeks from sources like, sadly, the president. Pay more attention to trustworthy information from the CDC.”
Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” will return to HBO at a later date.