With the federal approval of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine, dropping case numbers and a national vaccine rollout well under way, there’s hope of a return to some semblance of normalcy this summer. The good news is much-needed, said Seth Meyers on Wednesday night, because “it turns out winter during a pandemic fucking sucks.
“It’s like my soul has a hangnail,” the Late Night host continued. “The sun goes down at 5, I’m wearing a whole outfit made of SNL swag from 15 years ago watching 20 minutes of some Belgian Netflix drama before I realized I’ve watched it already.”
Meyers also praised the Biden administration for their efforts to scale up a vaccine distribution process from nothing; the federal government is now sending out 13.5m weekly doses to states and has earned praise from state leaders for their cooperation, in contrast to the Trump administration’s “chaotic” rollout.
“So it turns out you can just buy more of a life-saving vaccine and give more of it out, and both Republicans and Democrats will thank you for it?” Meyers said. “I’m no political genius, but that seems like a slightly better strategy than, I don’t know, personally trying to spread the disease to as many people as you can like President Outbreak Monkey.”
The ongoing pandemic, its requisite social isolation and an uncertain economic environment have contributed to a real phenomenon of pandemic paranoia, according to experts. But as Stephen Colbert pointed out, “that’s not paranoia, that’s normal human fear.
“If you cry at a birthday party when the clown comes out, that’s a phobia. If you’re one of the kids in It, it’s reasonable to avoid the sewer system.”
Also feeding the paranoia? Disinformation, the Late Show host continued, such as the election fraud conspiracies and lies undergirding the 6 January assault of the US Capitol. To understand the root of the deadly riot, which killed five Capitol police officers, injured dozens more and threatened the lives of lawmakers, the Senate held investigative hearings on Tuesday.
It was a dubious investigation, Colbert acknowledged, since the questioners included the Missouri senator Josh Hawley and the Texas senator Ted Cruz, who both supported challenging the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory. “That’s like having a cannibalism trial presided over by Judge Hannibal Lecter,” he joked, breaking out his best Lecter impression: “Would the prosecution please slather themselves in honey mustard and approach the bench?”
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah investigated the stark racial disparities in America’s vaccine distribution: even though black Americans are three times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus and 1.5 times more likely to die, only 5% of people vaccinated thus far are black, while over 60% are white.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t my old arch-nemesis: racism,” said Noah of the difference. “Since black people are getting sicker at a higher rate, they should be getting vaccinated at a higher rate, because they need it more.
“It’s the same reason you hand out free condoms on college campuses and not at a LARPing camp,” he joked.
Why are vaccinations of black Americans lagging behind? “There are two universal truths to living in America: one, every holiday is a mattress sale in disguise, and two, the wealthier you are, the easier it is to access life’s necessities,” Noah explained. Black residents are more likely than white residents to live farther from a vaccination center or in a pharmacy desert; black adults are also less likely to have access to internet connections necessary to schedule a vaccine appointment.
And beyond a lack of resources, there’s distrust of government medical advice rooted in decades of racist mistreatment, from pseudoscience to non-consensual medical research.
“This is why so many black people are suspicious of the medical community, because that community has betrayed them again, and again, and again,” explained Noah. “And you’re not gonna trust people who’ve betrayed you that many times – unless you’re Mike Pence.
“But unfortunately, this mistrust actually hurts black people, because these vaccines are safe,” he added. “Believe me on this – white people would never let Martha Stewart get one if it was dangerous.”
And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel discussed Donald Trump’s appeal to Facebook to overturn his ban from the social media site following his incitement of the Capitol attack. “I get endless delight from the fact that a former president is begging to get back on the website where your aunt posts pictures of ducks she saw at the park,” Kimmel joked. “If they put him back on, we should all get off. We should just all get right off, turn Facebook into a Blockbuster video store.”
In other news, “Team Biden is switching up the vocabulary that comes out of the White House,” Kimmel said, by reinstating the phrase “climate change” in official government materials and retiring the term “illegal alien”.
Kimmel took the opportunity to imagine a long list of Trump phrases headed for the dumpster, including: “fake news”, “China virus”, “lock her up”, “bigly”, “hamberders”, “covfefe”, “Tim Apple”, “one of the wettest we’ve seen from the standpoint of water”, “very fine people” and “haters and losers”.
“So, baby steps,” he concluded, “but progress is being made.”