Along with the rest of late-night TV, Last Week Tonight has suspended production while the U.S. attempts to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus. Before John Oliver officially gave his temporary farewell, however, he sat down with his HBO viewers, almost with a 1-on-1 feel, and delivered a starkly-produced, virus-themed installment that followed upon his initial segment on the disease a few short weeks ago. At that time, Oliver still had a live audience to supply ready responses to his trademark blunt humor, and he danced between discouraging a dangerously alarmist response while also not minimizing the dire nature of the situation. This time, everything feels different.
An all-white background frames Oliver, who filmed this segment from an undisclosed location, since the offices where Last Week Tonight usually films have experienced confirmed contact with the virus. Obviously, there’s no live audience here, only Oliver, along with his a typically unique blend of advice and information. As one might expect, he’s not a fan of how the Trump administration has handled this pandemic thus far, and he delivers minutes of airtime to that subtopic. Still, he concedes, there will be plenty of time for himself (and anyone else) to be “utterly furious” further down the road. Now is the time to take action, and that means, yes, social distancing to flatten that curve, so that hospitals are not overwhelmed by this virus’ peak effects upon society:
“Social distancing is absolutely crucial right now. I know there’s a temptation to think, ‘Hold on. This is America. I’m sure we have enough ventilators for even the worst case scenario.’ We don’t. We really don’t… We all have a real responsibility to one another right now. The choices we make in the coming days and weeks will contribute directly to how bad this crisis gets… Take care of yourself, take care of each other and we will be back in some form, sometime in the future.”
Already, LA and NYC have closed down movie theaters, bars, clubs, and dine-in restaurants until further notice. Schools across the country are shuttering, and emergencies have been declared on national and statewide levels across the board. Everyone who doesn’t have to work outside the home will likely be glued to the TV, although Oliver urges folks to not listen to the words of Geraldo Rivera, who believes that the ability to hold one’s breath for 10 seconds is a decent enough test for this virus.
Yep, Oliver hopes everyone avoids such harmful advice and urges everyone to not only be vigilant about the virus but also what they say on social media. “There is a ton of misinformation out there… so please be careful before forwarding or retweeting stuff that you do not know to be true,” the host urged. “Our personal actions are really going to count here.” Stay safe, everyone.