Samantha Bee taped Full Frontal in front of an empty studio on Wednesday, save for a few staff members sitting the prescribed six feet apart, as the spread of coronavirus disrupted daily life for Americans across the country. The virus is concerning, Bee said, but some are incorrectly and irresponsibly channeling their fear into racism against Asian people. Bee played several clips from Fox News of anchors blaming China for the virus, and the Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade demanded an apology. “China, we know it’s not your bad,” said Bee, “but could you please send Brian Kilmeade an edible arrangement so he’ll shut the f*** up.
“Tying coronavirus to China and Chinese people isn’t just a racist dog whistle – it’s a whole racist orchestra,” said Bee. “It’s a mighty, mighty racist bosstone, which brings me to this important point: The coronavirus is not an excuse to be racist.
“I know racism is like America’s weighted blanket,” Bee continued. “When everything is stressful, nothing makes us feel more secure than treating other people like trash.” For example, Asian American businesses are suffering as people incorrectly fear transmission through Chinese food; Asian Americans have been denied business and faced violence. In Los Angeles, an Asian American teen was beaten up so badly at school he had to go to the hospital. One man tried to spray a person he believed to be Asian with Febreze on a New York subway. “What the f***? The only person you should be afraid of in that situation is the guy who keeps Febreze on him at all times,” said Bee. “Whatever that Febreze is usually for is very bad.
“Covid-19 is scary and it’s made even scarier because our government is mishandling this crisis and conservative media is using Asian people as scapegoats,” Bee concluded: “The Trump administration is not going to save us. We have to take care of each other. It is not OK to mistreat people out of fear and panic.”
Coronavirus is “making people nervous”, said Stephen Colbert on the Late Show, “but I think at a time like this we all need to laugh, and be together – from a distance of, like, 20 feet or something like that.” So starting Monday, “out of an abundance of caution”, the Late Show and other late-night programs will forgo studio audiences.
But first, Colbert recapped public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci’s address to Congress on Wednesday, in which he warned: “As a nation, we can’t be doing the kind of things we were doing a few months ago.”
“But I want to! A few months ago was great,” Colbert protested. “It was the holidays, I was drunk on eggnog, I was watching Cheer, I was falling in love with Baby Yoda, I was looking forward to impeaching the president. Remember that feeling?
“It’s only March,” said Colbert, and yet “2020 has done the impossible: it’s made me nostalgic for 2019.”
To further muddy the waters on information, the coronavirus taskforce leader and “man who has quarantined his mind from knowledge”, Mike Pence, announced yesterday that health insurance companies had agreed to waive co-pays for corona testing and cover costs for treating the virus (this was apparently news to insurance companies). “Oh what a cool idea,” said Colbert. “It’s like Medicare … but for all.”
On Late Night, Seth Meyers looked to Italy for clues as to where America could be headed. The country has gone on full lockdown, including no sporting events. “Do you know how bad things have to be for Italians to cancel soccer matches?” said Meyers. “Italians love soccer more than they love talking with their hands, and they love talking with their hands.”
Not that President Trump has taken this threat seriously. Meyers pointed to Trump’s statement on Tuesday that the coronavirus situation was “really working out and a lot of good things are gonna happen”.
“The World Health Organization just called it a pandemic, and the president sounds like your stoner friend trying to get you through a bad acid trip,” said Meyers. “‘Don’t worry bro, just stay calm, a lot of good things are gonna happen!’”
Just two weeks ago, Trump claimed the US had only 15 cases and dropping “close to zero”. “He could not have been more wrong,” said Meyers. “‘Close to zero is an insane thing to say when you’re on the brink of a disease outbreak. That should be emblazoned in history as the worst presidential prediction since Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I’m gonna see like 10 plays this year.’”
Watch out for coronavirus misinformation, and please, PLEASE stop buying up all the toilet paper. pic.twitter.com/FAAjL9afFX
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah spoke to Wednesday’s collective coronavirus freakout. “I know we’re all scared, but panic is not going to help anything,” he said. “We’re still learning about this, we’re still learning about the mortality rate, and panic is not helping.” Right now, some people are letting their panic make them dumb as shit,” Noah said before showing clips of people fighting over toilet paper. “People, what are you doing? You do not need to panic over toilet paper.
“I feel like people in first world countries don’t know what to panic about,” Noah said. “Toilet paper? Are you shitting me? What’s next? Are people just going to be running around Walmart like, oh, where’s the car wax?!
“Avoid panicking, because if you panic, you stop thinking clearly,” Noah concluded. “And if you’re not thinking clearly, then you’ll start to believe anything that you hear,” such as “cures” including chewing garlic or drinking bleach.
“Drinking bleach, snorting cocaine and masturbating is not the way to cure corona,” Noah said. “It’s the way to kick off the most rock’n’-roll party of your life.”