Speed Reads

Late Night Tackles coronavirus

Dr. Anthony Fauci answers all Trevor Noah's coronavirus questions. Joe Biden tells Jimmy Kimmel his plan.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases and the lead expert on President Trump's coronavirus task force, has advised six presidents on a series of terrible infectious diseases. He told The Daily Show's Trevor Noah on Thursday that his "worst nightmare" has long been "a respiratory-borne illness that easily spreads from person to person but that has a high degree of morbidity and mortality," and with COVID-19, "it spreads very easily — you can even spread it when you're not symptomatic" — and its mortality rate is 10 times higher than the seasonal flu.

Fauci said people have to weigh the risks of various activities Noah asked about — for example, he doesn't think we "need to get completely obsessed about packages that come in" — but coughing and sneezing are dangerous. The virus spreads mainly through droplets of saliva, including hand contact after a person coughs, but it can also be aerosolized and hang out in the air for a bit.

"You don't want to be obsessive-compulsive about wiping everything down that you go near," Fauci said, but contaminated doorknobs are "one of the real bad actors." He suggested and end to handshakes "for a while" and frequent hand washing, plus keeping six feet of social distancing. "The overwhelming proportion" of COVID-19 patients "are the elderly with underlying disease," like heart or respiratory issues, he added, but young people are far from "invulnerable."

But even if you never get sick, "you have an almost societal, moral responsibility to protect other people" by not spreading the virus, Fauci said, and in terms of how long people will need to shelter in place, "the virus is the clock, Trevor."

"We may be running low on masks, but there are plenty of tinfoil hats to go around right now," Jimmy Kimmel said. "There's a far-right conspiracy circulating that claims Dr. Anthony Fauci has been secretly plotting with Hillary Clinton to destroy the economy and undermine the Trump presidency. That's right — maybe the virus came from Hillary's computer!" He dialed in the likely Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. Biden said he's baffled by Trump's slow, piecemeal response to the outbreak — "honest to God, Jimmy, I don't know" — asked Trump to steal his coronavirus plan, explained how he's spending his days, and reassured Kimmel that Trump "doesn't have the authority" to postpone the election. Peter Weber