John Oliver opened Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight with a fitting summary of current events: “Well, well, well! Um, this is weird, isn’t it? This is definitely weird.”
As Oliver explained, he and a very limited crew were filming the episode from a bare, unspecified location sans audience members, after cases of coronavirus were confirmed at both the studio where Last Week Tonight usually films and the office building where Oliver and his staff typically work. (“It kind of looks like the place movie characters go when they’ve just died,” Oliver said of the “white void” set.)
Last Week Tonight is one of nearly 100 shows (view the complete list) halting production in the wake of coronavirus concerns, which means Sunday’s episode will be the show’s last for the foreseeable future. Naturally, Oliver dedicated the entire episode to discussion of the virus, including President Trump’s “complete mess” of a response to the pandemic.
“This is clearly both frustrating and extremely unnerving and is actively contributing to a sense of confusion in the country at the moment,” Oliver said, referencing Trump’s consistent spread of misinformation about the virus. “At this point, it might really be best for us 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.”
Oliver then reiterated some guidelines for staying safe and healthy during the pandemic, specifically urging viewers to practice social distancing as much as possible and prevent the health care system from getting overwhelmed by too many cases.
“Social distancing is absolutely crucial right now,” he remarked. “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.”
He continued, “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.”
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