In just a few weeks, the United States has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, and as Oliver noted, we still don’t know just how bad things are thanks to a botched rollout of testing kits and a general lack of preparedness from the start.
Despite the severity of the crisis, early last week Trump suggested that people might be able to start returning to work as early as Easter in order to reignite the economy. And while Trump has since acknowledged that social distancing rules will likely have to remain in place at least through April, Oliver pointed out the surreal line of thinking that subsequently emerged among some conservatives — including Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and radio host Glenn Beck — who started touting the idea that it’s worth dying from the coronavirus to save the markets.
Of course, as a flabbergasted Oliver remarked, there are significant drawbacks to letting hundreds of thousands of people die. “Hospitals will be completely overwhelmed, which means people suffering from things that aren’t the coronavirus also wouldn’t be able to get the treatment that they need, leading to even more people dying, which, to put this in the only terms that they seem to care about, also tanks the economy,” he said, before cracking, “It’s shitting on your cake and choking on it, too.”
Oliver went on to note the dire lack of personal protective equipment and other life-saving supplies, like ventilators, at hospitals, and Trump’s belated and lackluster invocation of the Defense Production Act to generate more essential supplies. As a result, state governors have been forced to bid against each other for boxes of equipment, prompting Oliver to spit, “This is the government’s response to a pandemic, not fucking Storage Wars.”
Oliver closed the segment by imploring people to keep adhering to social distancing rules, framing it as “the least we can do” to help medical professionals on the front lines of this crisis. “What we all choose to do outside of our hospitals has a direct and significant impact on what happens inside them,” he 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 healthcare workers to do their jobs. It is the only way to counteract an appalling federal response that inspires a mixture of anger, bafflement and disgust.”