If there’s one statement from the latest Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that summarizes the entire episode, it’s this one: “Our personal actions are really going to count.” In this unusually somber episode, Oliver says that the show was shot without a live audience, since the building where Last Week Tonight typically tapes might be infected with coronavirus.
As a result, Oliver speaks with an added sense of urgency. In a room with stark white walls that “looks like the place where movie characters go when they’ve just died,” the host focuses on the coronavirus pandemic. But the pared-down set design for the show helps draw attention to the gravity of the issue, without an audience’s laughs for distraction.
In this season’s second episode dedicated to coronavirus, the host discusses how “deeply frustrating” it is to watch the U.S. government’s handling of the pandemic. For him, “it’s very difficult to say exactly where things stand, especially because despite Trump repeatedly claiming otherwise, tests for this virus are still not available in most places to those who need them, which means that we can’t yet properly track the virus or know how quickly it is spreading.”
As Oliver points out, Trump is not communicating effectively, with his fumbled address to the nation on March 11 and a dismissive attitude to PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor’s question about him disbanding the Whitehouse Pandemic Office. In contrast, the host praises Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infections, for his candidness and clarity on the current public health crisis.
Speaking about the relative inaccessibility of coronavirus test kits, Fauci says, “The idea of anybody getting [a test]