John Oliver returned to HBO last night — now working from home — and gave an in-depth update on the coronavirus and the “appalling federal response” to it. (You can watch his first coronavirus segment here and the second here.) Oliver highlighted the call from President Trump and many conservative pundits to relax social-distancing guidelines much sooner than necessary, which would effectively, as Oliver put it, force people to “sacrifice themselves for the economy” and result in even more deaths. “Relaxing social distancing right now isn’t just trading one bad outcome for another,” he said. “It’s trading one bad outcome for both bad outcomes. It’s shitting on your cake and choking on it too.”
Oliver also addressed the overrun hospitals and the overworked health-care professionals who are trying to save lives with an alarming shortage of masks, ventilators, and other medical supplies. Trump has claimed that states are exaggerating the number of supplies they need and is making states haggle with him and compete against each other to obtain them. This is Trump’s approach instead of using the full power of the Defense Production Act, Oliver said, which would compel companies to start producing the supplies that are so desperately needed right now. “Trump must be so confused by fire departments,” Oliver said. “You walk into most houses, they got some sinks, maybe a few cups. Now all of a sudden, they’re on fire and they say they need hundreds of gallons of water sprayed at them with hoses? I just don’t buy it!”
“This was always going to be hard, but it actually didn’t need to be this hard. And that is why it is so profoundly disheartening that we’re being led through this crisis by a man who may be less equipped to deal with this historical moment than anybody in recorded history,” Oliver said later in the segment, after highlighting all of the opportunities Trump had to get ahead of the virus, considering his claim that he always knew it would be a pandemic. After rolling a clip of Trump accusing opponents of wanting the pandemic to get worse just so it’ll hurt Trump in the polls, Oliver said, “For once, something has come along that is more toxic and threatening than this president, and somehow, he’s got fucking stage envy.”
Despite the conservative line of thinking where “market worship threatens to become a fucking death cult,” Oliver pointed out that “extraordinary heroism, kindness, and ingenuity” has come out of all this too — especially from medical professionals, “who deserve, among other things, a fucking parade whenever we’re allowed to have parades again.” And if Trump’s not giving them the help they need, Oliver pointed out, the rest of us can at least try to counteract that by doing our best to help them. “Right now, what we all choose to do outside of our hospitals has a direct and significant impact on what happens inside of them,” Oliver said. “The more strictly that we all follow social-distancing guidelines to the maximum extent that we can, the easier it will be for our health-care workers to do their jobs.” So if you aren’t already, stay home for as long and as often as you can — it’s a direct command from John Oliver himself.