John Oliver explains why 'the coronavirus is not The Hunger Games,' despite Trump's best efforts

John Oliver pans Trump's COVID-19 response
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Last Week Tonight)

"COVID-19 continues to rip around the globe," John Oliver said on Sunday's from-his-living-room Last Week Tonight. But the U.S. now has the most confirmed cases in the world, "and the president has only recently seemed to realize the gravity of the situation." Because the federal government "wasted so much time that we could have spent preparing" and "massively botched the rollout of testing for the virus," he said, our best shot at slowing this outbreak is strict social distancing.

President Trump and some of his allies think the cost may be too high. "I'm in no way minimizing the economic suffering caused by the shutdown," Oliver said. "But the idea that people should sacrifice themselves for the economy is absurd. And yet, it actually gained traction this week."

Oliver addressed right-wing market-worshippers like Glenn Beck and the lieutenant governor of Texas: "You get that the coronavirus is not The Hunger Games, right? You can't volunteer yourself as tribute. And what you're doing is actually much darker: You're actively volunteering others, including people of all ages with health conditions, to die. And even if these guys are okay with letting the coronavirus kill as many people as it feels like so that the economy's protected — which, again: really?!? — there are — and I cannot believe I have to say this — significant drawbacks to hundreds of thousands of people dying," Among them, such carnage "also tanks the economy," he said. "So relaxing social distancing right now isn't just trading one bad outcome for another; it's trading one bad outcome for both bad outcomes."

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Oliver ran through some things Trump might have done, and could still do, to forestall a catastrophe. "This was always going to be hard," he said. "But it actually didn't need to be this hard. And that is why it's so profoundly disheartening that we're being led through this crisis by a man who may be less equipped to deal with this historical moment than anybody in recorded history."

"For once, something has come along that is more toxic and more threatening than this president, and somehow, he's got f---ing stage envy," Oliver sighed. "And look, I know this isn't exactly the first time that I've criticized Donald Trump, but I can't tell you how much I was rooting for him to do this better." If you don't mind NSFW language, watch below. Peter Weber

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