Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 9, Episode 19 - Monkeypox - full transcript

John Oliver discusses the recent up rise of monkeypox outbreak in the United States of America., how properly equipped authorities were to contained it in early stage, and how terribly they failed to execute it effectively. Also h...

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Welcome to "Last Week Tonight"!
I'm John Oliver.

Thank you so much for joining us.
It has been a busy week.

Al Qaeda's leader
was killed by the U.S.,

Kansans overwhelmingly preserved
abortion protections,

and there was a big scandal
in the world of science.

A prominent French scientist
is apologizing after Tweeting

a photo he claimed
was the image of a distant star

taken by the James Webb
Space Telescope.

Turns out, it was actually a close-up
photo of a slice of chorizo sausage.

What a great science joke!

Also, this is probably a good time
to tell all of you,

that other James Webb
telescope photo

was actually just one of those
old movie theater carpets.

You idiot!

You grappled with the existence of
extraterrestrial life over that photo.

What a fucking moron!

Anyway, we're going to start tonight
with Alex Jones.

A man who answers the question,
"What if Grimace were a Proud Boy?"

Because Jones
has had himself quite the week.

Jones under pressure, found liable
in three separate defamation lawsuits

brought by the families of 10 victims
of the Sandy Hook massacre,

the jury for this case determining
how much Jones must pay for his lies.

Sandy Hook is a synthetic,
completely fake,

with actors,
in my view, manufactured.

Look, obviously,
those claims were disgusting.

But they shouldn't
really be that surprising,

coming from a guy
who literally named his platform

after going to war
with information.

Alex, you fucked with info,
and this time, info fucking won.

Not that Jones
has put up much of a fight so far.

Judges have actually issued
default judgments against him

in multiple suits regarding
his Sandy Hook remarks,

after he failed
to comply with court orders.

So, the trial this week
was the first of three in which

the only question is determining
how much he'll have to pay.

And the way he's handled this trial

is almost a masterclass
in what not to do in court.

Starting with the fact
that he lied so many times,

the exasperated judge
had to say this.

It seems absurd
to instruct you again

that you must tell the truth
while you testify, yet here I am.

You must tell the truth
while you testify.

This is not your show.
Do you understand what I have said?

Yes or no?
Do you understand what I have said?

Yes, I believe
what I said was true, so I don't?

Yes, you believe everything
you say is true, but it isn't.

Your beliefs
do not make something true.

That is what we're doing here.

Yeah. And you can understand
her frustration there.

When it comes to rules that a judge
doesn't expect to have to spell out,

"don't lie in court" is up there with
"you have to leave your beer outside",

"it's not admissible evidence
if it happened in a dream,"

and "we do not celebrate
Halloween in here."

But that's not the only way
that Jones provoked the judge.

Because he's also continued
to appear on InfoWars,

which has, among other things,
baselessly linked her to pedophilia,

and shown this image of her
engulfed in flames.

He also went after the jury,
questioning their intelligence,

"implying that his political enemies
had handpicked 'blue-collar' people

who were ill-equipped to decide
what monetary damages he must pay."

He even engaged in the pettiest
kind of behavior, like this.

- Spit your gum out.
- It's not gum.

What is it?

Because you're not allowed food
or gum of any kind in the courtroom.

I had my tooth pulled
a week and a half ago,

and I had
some gauze in there earlier.

And it's been causing me
to have some pain.

- So, you're chewing on your gauze?
- Would you like me to show you?

No, I just want you
to answer my question.

No, I was massaging the hole
in my mouth with my tongue.

I'll show you right here.

I don't want to see
the inside of your mouth.

Holy shit! If you heard
just her side of that interaction,

from "spit it out" to "I don't want
to see the inside of your mouth,"

you'd assume she was talking
to A, a small child, or B, a dog.

You would not guess
she was talking

to professional conspiracist-
slash-grown man Alex Jones

until at least guess D.

That is pathetic enough even
before you learn that later that day,

you could very clearly see him
turning away from the judge

and putting
something in his mouth.

And look, obviously, a lot of this
was deliberate shtick on Jones' part.

He decided to make
this court hearing a circus,

because he's in the circus business.

Which is particularly despicable,

because the parents of one of the
children that was killed at Sandy Hook,

who were harassed constantly
by Jones' fans, were in that room.

But there was one twist
that he may not have seen coming.

Because on Wednesday,
one of the lawyers for the parents

introduced a text message
from Alex Jones' phone

regarding the Sandy Hook shooting.

Which was notable,
because he'd previously testified

that he'd searched his phone,
and could find no such messages.

And it then emerged
exactly how it had been obtained.

- Do you know where I got this?
- No.

Mr. Jones, did you know
that 12 days ago, 12 days ago,

your attorneys messed up,

and sent me an entire digital copy
of your entire cell phone,

with every text message you've sent,
for the past two years?

And when informed,

did not take any steps
to identify it as privileged,

or protected in any way,

and as of two days ago, it fell free
and clear into my possession,

and that is how
I know you lied to me

when you said you didn't have
text messages about Sandy Hook.


First, credit to that lawyer
for having the superhuman patience

to sit on those text messages
for 12 whole days.

Imagine receiving those records, with
texts that probably said things like,

"I know Sandy Hook
really happened.

I'm a ghoul who wants to make the
world suffer and make money doing it",

followed immediately by one saying,

"Can you make the frogs
look gayer in the graphics?"

And saying to yourself,
"Wait. Your time will come."

But the contents of Jones' phone
could become a problem for him.

Not only has the January 6th committee
already requested those phone records,

but they also show that Jones,
who's tried to plead poverty,

was earning revenue
of as much as $800,000 per day

in recent years from sales.

It was determined that he has to pay
$4 million in compensatory damages,

but, as we now know, that could be
just a week's work for him,

and another 45 million
in punitive damages,

though that will undoubtedly
be the subject of further litigation.

And look, clearly,
none of this is going to stop him.

There are two more trials coming up,

and he's probably going to find ways
to turn those into a clown show as well

and fundraise off them, too.

But at least, this phone thing could
make his life much more difficult,

and for a while.

And that is something
that we should all be allowed to enjoy.

Because to wake up one morning
and find out that Alex Jones' lawyers

mistakenly shared his cell phone
records is a true blessing.

We don't deserve this, but one
thing's for sure: he definitely does.

And now, this!

And Now?

Some Thoughts from C-SPAN's
Most Frequent Caller.

Let's get to your phone calls.
We'll go to Walter in Butler, Indiana.

Good morning. Is the government
doing enough to prevent cyberattacks?

Good morning,
thanks for taking my call.

I don't know the answer.
I have no idea.

Here's Butler, Indiana.
We hear from Walter.

Walter. Butler, Indiana.

Walter is joining us
from Butler, Indiana.

Butler, Indiana. Republican line.
Walter, hi there.

On the Republican line, Walter.

Walter is a Republican.
Good morning.

When this whole corona thing started,
I hunkered down in my bunker.

I went and bought maybe
400 bottles of good Irish whiskey,

I loaded up my humidors with all
of the top-quality maduro cigars.

I went to the supermarket
and I got corned beef hash and Spam,

and I've been hanging out
in my bunker ever since.

I love watching TV, I'm old to go out
and do any kind of exercise,

I sit and watch the boob tube.

Good morning.
Thank you for taking my call.

I talk to myself, but no one listens,
and now I have you on the line.

I don't have the internet,
I don't have Facebook,

I don't have a cell phone,
I deal with it fine.

If I get a little bummed out,
I go outside and feed the ducks.

I'm a proud non-owner of a cell phone,
a computer,

an internet, I don't Tweet,
twerk, Twitter, Facebook,

I write letters in cursive,
I put 'em in an envelope

and mail 'em with a return to sender
address on it.

And I feel bad for you. You've got
your nice cup of coffee there

and you're dying to take a swig,
so go right ahead and have one.

Don't worry about me, but thank you.
Go ahead.

That's about all I've got to say.

But I'm good on the Spam.
I've still got Spam. Remember Spam?

Used to open up,
put it in a frying pan,

get two pieces of bread with tomatoes
and mayonnaise, and you're good to go.

We'll let you go, there, Walter,
with a reminder.

30 days in between calls, please,
here on Washington Journal.

Moving on.
Our main story tonight

concerns something
that's been getting ore and more urgent

over the past two months:
Lea Michele's comeback.

It's an unpleasant surprise,

and the longer we let it continue,
the harder it'll be to stop.

Sorry, did I say
Lea Michele's comeback?

I meant monkeypox. Monkeypox
has come as an unpleasant surprise,

and it's becoming
increasingly hard to stop.

For the past several months,
you may have noticed monkeypox

being discussed
with an increasing sense of alarm.

There are now dozens of confirmed
cases of monkeypox in the US.

Hundreds of confirmed
monkeypox cases in the U.S.

U.S. cases skyrocket

from 1,400 less than two weeks ago
to nearly 3,000 today.

The CDC now reporting
more than 4,600 cases.

More than 5,200 cases reported.

More than 6,300 cases
now reported.

Currently, the U.S. leads the world
in case count, over 7,000.

It's true.
Monkeypox cases are rising sharply.

And that is the absolute
worst collection of words

that you're going to hear
this summer,

aside from maybe
"50-year-old Dane Cook

engaged to longtime
23-year-old girlfriend."

Although that's not fair,
it's not that big of an age difference,

they're just an entire
Timoth?e Chalamet apart.

Math is fun!

But the spread of monkeypox
is genuinely alarming.

Its most obvious symptom
is skin lesions,

which can in severe cases
be extremely painful,

and while the pain
is not remotely funny,

people have been getting
very creative in how they describe it.

I had between
six and 800 lesions.

It was like someone taking
a hole puncher all over my body

right under my skin.

It's like somebody takes a dull knife
that is searingly hot

and is cutting inside of you and uses
a toothbrush afterwards and brushes it.

Any time it grazes something
or touches something,

it literally feels like someone's
taking a potato peeler to your skin.

It's like sitting on shards of glass.
And I hope that's PG-rated enough.

That sounds really bad!

And this is not remotely the point,
but sitting on shards of glass,

while not entirely graphic,
isn't exactly PG either.

If you took your kids
to see "Minions: Rise of Gru"

and the first 10 minutes
was the yellow thumbs

plopping their asses
on shards of glass,

you'd race your kids
out of the theater immediately.

Sadly, as with Covid, there is a lot
of misinformation flying around.

There are theories like, monkeypox
can be caused by the Covid vaccine,

which it can't.

And that it escaped from a lab,
which it didn't.

It seems a spreading virus, yet again,
is bringing out the worst in people,

including targeting
those suspected of carrying it.

Take this TikTok video
of a woman on the subway,

with an image of a monkey
and a question mark,

clearly implying
she had monkeypox.

It got over two million views,

and when the woman in question
found out, this is how she responded.

Hi. I'm the girl from the video,

and what you're watching is me sitting
on the train talking on the phone.

The skin condition
that I have is called NF1,

and the bumps
that you see are tumors.

The tumors are benign,
but they're still all over my skin

and give me health complications,
both physical and mental.

I've come a long way,
and I like me.

But I'm not that healed,
and I'm not above being vengeful.

Yeah. 5,000 middle fingers
to the dumb fuck

that thought taking an unsolicited
video of a complete stranger

and stigmatizing them for a
medical condition was a good idea.

That is clearly
not what TikTok is for.

TikTok is for discovering you've
been opening freezer pops wrong

your entire life.

Yeah, you just snap it in the middle!
No scissors necessary.

My whole life has been a lie.


despite the fact we're still
in the middle of the Covid pandemic,

we seem to be replicating
some of its key mistakes,

from persecuting strangers
to spreading misinformation

to badly mismanaging
the public-health response.

So tonight, we thought it'd be
worth talking about monkeypox:

what it is, how we've fumbled
our response to it,

and what we should do
going forward.

Let's start with the basics here:
monkeypox is a pox virus.

It's part of the same family
that causes smallpox,

though thankfully, it's not nearly
as transmissible or as fatal.

It usually presents in humans
with fever, swollen lymph nodes,

exhaustion, headache, and a rash,
though it can also cause

complications like blindness,
if the lesions reach your eyes,

and in rare cases,
can result in death.

Quick note on the name.

Despite being called "monkeypox",
it didn't originate in monkeys.

It was first discovered in 1958
in monkeys, in Denmark,

but they likely got it from rodents,
who are thought to be main carriers.

In fact, it's endemic in rodents
in Central and West Africa,

where there've been sporadic
outbreaks for decades now,

and it's actually been transmitting
between people continuously in Nigeria

for at least five years.

The U.S. even had its own monkeypox
outbreak nearly 20 years ago,

which came about
thanks to an unexpected culprit.

Health officials are investigating
what appears to be another case

of an animal virus that
has jumped to human beings.

It's called monkeypox,

and it may be linked
to pet prairie dogs in the Midwest.

The Midwestern prairie dog
is not a common pet,

but some pet stores
have been selling them,

along with other exotic animals
from around the world.

And that, say investigators,
is why 30 people today

are suspected of having a disease
that has never been seen before here.

I have one main question,
and it's this:

why the fuck would anyone
want to own a prairie dog?

And you know me, I have an abounding
love for the rodent community.

Guinea pigs? Excellent.
Hamsters? Perfect.

Capybara? Big, pensive sweetie.

But it's gonna be
a hard pass from me

on this little plague-ridden
Freddy Krueger.

Look at those fucking hands!

Also, quick shoutout to the absolute
dipshit that came up with that name.

Pour one out for the stupidest
friend of Laura Ingalls Wilder,

who saw an animal
that is, generously,

a big hamster that fucked a meerkat
with garden rakes for hands,

and went, "dog!"
and it somehow stuck.

Now, thankfully, we managed
to contain that particular outbreak,

and put a stop
to the sale of prairie dogs

before person-to-person contact
could begin.

But now,
things are clearly different.

And look,
there is still a lot we don't know,

and information that we do have
is still very much subject to change.

But as it stands,
as of this taping,

the vast majority of cases have been
among gay and bisexual men

and their sexual networks,

the virus spreads through
sustained skin-to-skin contact,

and it's believed to be spreading
most commonly during sex.

Though, in rarer cases, it can spread
through respiratory droplets

during prolonged
face-to-face contact,

or through bedding or towels
used by someone with monkeypox.

And the thing is, not long ago,

there was an expectation that
this outbreak might be containable.

At the end of May, when there were
130 confirmed cases outside of Africa,

one WHO official said this.

This outbreak can still be contained,

and it is the objective
of the World Health Organization

and member states to contain
this outbreak and to stop it.

Yeah, that sounded pretty reassuring,
didn't it?

And I want to believe the words of
the head of the smallpox secretariat,

which is
a very impressive-sounding job,

while also sounding like the most
depressing movie sequel of all time.

And to be fair,
that optimism wasn't unwarranted,

there were many reasons to think
that we could, and indeed should,

quickly get this under control.

First, because monkeypox
has been around for a while,

we are at least
somewhat familiar with it.

Also, because it's similar to smallpox,
there is good reason to believe

that the tools we already have to fight
that work on monkeypox, too.

So, this was not
like the early days of Covid,

when we didn't know
anything about anything.

Remember March 2020?

We were Lysoling our groceries
like they came out of the sewer,

Geraldo was on TV claiming you could
test for Covid by holding your breath,

and we did a show on the coronavirus
on March 1st, 2020,

in which the main advice
that we gave our full,

unmasked studio audience
was to wash their hands.

I even did a little dance about it.

And while I was clearly wrong
about Covid,

I was right about those moves!

I look like Julia Stiles
in "Save the Last Dance".

Very white and unnecessarily
hyped up by the crowd.

But with monkeypox,
we were in the fortunate position

of having pre-existing tests,
vaccines, and treatments.

Unfortunately, the rollout of each
of them has been painfully flawed.

And let's start with tests.

Testing for monkeypox
was initially "siloed within the CDC

and its network of public-health labs",
of which there are around 70.

People had to meet certain eligibility
criteria to qualify for testing,

making the whole process
"slow and cumbersome",

And "slow and cumbersome"
are the last words you want to hear

in the early days of a disease outbreak
apart from, of course,

the opening lines of "Imagine"
sung acapella.

As of early June, we were only
conducting 10 tests per day, in total,

across the country, increasing
to just 60 by the end of the month.

Now, thankfully,
testing has ramped up since then,

with the Biden administration allowing
commercial labs to test as well,

but barriers
still very much remain.

For one thing, there is
only one FDA-authorized test,

which requires you
to swab lesions.

And aside from being painful,
you have to wait until they appear

to even run a test, and they
may not be the first symptom.

So, until we develop
and vet new forms of tests,

like ones that can be used
on saliva or with throat swabs,

our results are going to lag.

But what's more,
we, ridiculously,

don't have a good system
for gathering and sharing data.

Monkeypox was spreading
for more than two months

before states were even required
to share data with the CDC,

making tracking cases across
the country incredibly difficult.

And the truth is,

even communication within states
can be absurdly antiquated.

I talked to officials
in Missouri and Florida

who were counting
monkeypox cases via fax.

I think we all,
in the United States,

kind of expect public health
to work like Amazon Prime.

We're gonna get our packages in 2 days
and everything will be fixed.

But public health in this country
has been underfunded for decades.

First, the only way we think public
health is like Amazon Prime

is that they both force people
to pee in plastic containers.

But second, fax machines?

The only thing fax machines
should be used for nowadays

is for ending the sentence
"Remember fax machines?"

And that is it.

We didn't know where the cases
were or how many there were,

and whatever numbers that we did
have were likely drastic undercounts,

because we weren't testing enough.

Which is already very bad.
Then, there's the vaccines.

Where, again, we should've been
in pretty good shape.

The U.S. government's actually
been developing and stockpiling

new smallpox vaccines
since 9/11,

when there were fears that
it would be used as a bioweapon.

Just watch this segment from 2002,
which features a familiar face.

The U.S. government began
stockpiling smallpox vaccine last year

and has placed orders
for tens of millions more doses.

We have enough material
that if we needed to,

God forbid,
a catastrophe of a massive attack,

we would be able to have a vaccine
for everyone in the country.

Yeah, there he is!

Anthony Fauci, the Forrest Gump
of catastrophic contagion.

But the point is,

the government very smartly built up
massive reserves of smallpox vaccine.

It is just one of the one ways
that the war on terror made us safer.

But unfortunately,
those huge stockpiles

weren't available at the start
of this monkeypox outbreak,

thanks to a number
of key strategic errors.

For a start, incredibly,
we let 20 million doses expire.

We just did that.

Which seems especially unconscionable
given, as I mentioned earlier,

multiple African countries
have had outbreaks of monkeypox

for decades now and might've
appreciated a shot or two.

Sharing vaccines
would have served two purposes:

basic human decency,
but also, abject selfishness,

in that stopping outbreaks
over there

might well have prevented
the current outbreak over here.

And yet, for some reason,

we let the vaccine sit unused
on a shelf in our reserves

like an expired Chobani,
or a $90 million movie on HBO Max.

By the way, hi there,
new business daddy!

Seems like you're doing
a really great job!

I do get the vague sense

that you're burning down
my network for the insurance money,

but I'm sure that that'll all pass!

So, at one time, we had more
than 20 million vaccines available.

But when this outbreak began,
we were down to "2,400 usable doses",

which is "enough to fully vaccinate
just 1,200 people".

Now, we did have "300,000 doses
sitting in a warehouse in Denmark",

but for some reason, officials
waited weeks as the virus spread,

before finally deciding
to ship them to the U.S.

That sequence of bad decisions is why
we've been seeing scenes like these.

Hundreds lined up for
the monkeypox vaccine last week

at this clinic in Manhattan,
but supplies quickly ran out.

I came here for like a few days already
'cause I don't have appointment.

I went to the website
and the website crashed.

Been trying to get a vaccine for the
last almost two and a half, 3 weeks,

tried at multiple vaccine centers
and everyone's out of vaccines.

So, here I am.

Exactly, vaccines are apparently the
Beyonce concert tickets of healthcare.

Announced with little warning,
gone in 30 minutes,

and will likely have you screaming,
"You won't break my soul"

at the top of your fucking lungs.

So, tests? Hampered by red tape.
Vaccines? Expired by the millions.

And finally, there's treatments.

Remember, monkeypox
can be incredibly painful.

And there is a drug that shows
promise in reducing those symptoms.

But it, too, is way harder
to get than it should be.

An experimental drug that could help
some people who have monkeypox

is available, but the question is,
can they get it?

The medication is called tecovirimat,
brand name TPOXX.

There's no shortage of TPOXX,
but it's FDA-approved for smallpox.

For monkeypox, it's still considered
an investigational drug.

has lifted some requirements

so doctors can prescribe it under
something called expanded access,

but that involves hours
of forms and extra appointments.

Yeah, and even if you found
a doctor willing to do all of that,

some patients are then finding
themselves waiting days

for the shipments of the drug to arrive
from the strategic national stockpile.

Which just isn't great,
considering, remember,

that this can feel
like sitting on shards of glass.

It is not a condition that you can
put off dealing with for a few days,

like a cold,
or a UTI if you're super tired.

Basically, every part
of our early response to this

made things harder
than they needed to be.

And, I will say, there have been
some improvements recently.

We've seen some progress on testing.
More vaccines are finally coming,

with large numbers set
to start arriving in October.

And the paperwork for TPOXX
has been streamlined somewhat.

If you think you need any of those,
you should still be seeking them out.

But the delays we've seen
in fixing these problems

have been absolutely maddening.

And it has been hard not to wonder
whether the lack of urgency

has had anything to do with
who's been getting hit the hardest.

This is obviously spreading.
It's something that warrants concern.

What I don't want to see
for our community is the 1980s,

HIV all over again.

Where it wasn't talked about,
it was known that it was out there,

but there was no pressure
to do anything about it,

"It's just the gays. It's fine."

You have to believe that,
if monkeypox were spreading

largely through heterosexual sex,
things would be drastically different.

You'd be able to get a free vax
with purchase at every J.Crew in US.

Because it is not homophobic

to acknowledge
who is currently most affected,

which is, gay and bisexual men,
sex workers,

and people who participate
in sex with multiple partners.

What is homophobic
is when you blame or shame

the people who are suffering,

or when you decide
you don't need to care about this,

because you don't see their lives
as valuable

or their suffering
as consequential.

And that is where
there are strong echoes

of the AIDS crisis in some
of the discussion around monkeypox.

Just listen
to Marjorie Taylor Greene,

elected official
and one-star Uber passenger,

who dismissed it like this.

Of course, monkeypox is a threat
to some people in our population.

But we know what causes it
and that's pretty much?

It's basically
a sexually transmitted disease.

So, it's not a threat
to most of the population.

It's not a global pandemic,
it's really not,

and people just have
to have to laugh at it, mock it,

and reject it.

So, I think it's another scam.

Obviously, that is ridiculous.

If the way to get rid
of something awful

was for people
to laugh at it and mock it,

that woman clearly wouldn't be
in Congress, and yet, here we all are.

Greene also Tweeted,

"If monkeypox
is a sexually transmitted disease,

why are kids getting it?"

in an act of obvious dog
whistle bigotry

suggesting gay people
are a danger to children,

when what's clearly
an actual danger to children

is the QAnon congresswoman
who once Tweeted,

"The kids at Uvalde
needed JR-15s."

And I know
there is a temptation,

when you see homophobia
like that, to push back and say,

"It's not just gay people!
Anyone can get monkeypox".

Which is true.

But it is also true that,
while anyone can get it,

right now,
certain people are getting it more.

And crucially, they are
the ones who should be receiving

the lion's share
of the resources right now,

and specific,
targeted public health guidance.

And the messaging here
can admittedly be a bit of a minefield.

The queer community
may be understandably reluctant

to hear some straight person
lecturing them about their sex lives,

especially when that advice,

has so often come with an air
of disapproval about it.

And some, in this current crisis,
have been tone deaf.

One public health official
here in New York

pushed for a more
abstinence-based approach,

posting on his website,

"If we had an outbreak
associated with bowling,

would we not warn people
to stop bowling?"

Which isn't a great way to put it.

In fact, an openly gay health
official responded by Tweeting,

"A white straight cis man
comparing sex to bowling

tells me so much
about straight sex."

Which, honestly? That's a fair hit.
That's a fair hit right there.

The official who wrote
that Tweet is actually now

the deputy coordinator
of the federal monkeypox response,

and he's been talking about this
with a refreshing frankness.

Like in this official video,

where he walks through practical steps
to avoid exposure,

and then offers this advice to people
who think that they, or their partner,

may have been exposed.

Consider the following ways to reduce
the chance of spreading the virus.

Have virtual sex
with no in-person contact.

Masturbate together at a distance
without touching each other

and without touching
any rash or sores.

Remember to wash your hands
with soap and water

and disinfect fetish gear,
sex toys, and any fabrics

such as bedding, towels,
clothing, after having sex.

That's great!

That is honestly some of the best
communication of public health guidance

I have ever seen.

It's helpful, it's specific,
and it's non-judgmental.

And honestly,
it's pretty good advice for everyone.

Far more people should be exploring
virtual sex with no in-person contact.

Make sure that you're not doing it in
the middle of a work meeting, Jeffrey.

Although that really
should not be that hard.

And it is not
just the government.

Community groups have been
trying to frame health advice

in a way that's much
more sex-positive,

making it more likely
to be well-received.

Like this flyer
from an L.A. LGBT center

with the very practical tip,

"Forget slutty summer,
hold off for anal autumn!

Do it in cider donut season".
Which, again, is excellent.

It's good advice for now,
it's good advice for the fall,

and it's also a pretty good slogan
for Dunkin'.

And while good messaging
is certainly welcome here,

it is depressing that we have to rely
so heavily on it in the first place,

given the many systemic failures
that have brought us to this point.

So, what can we do now?

Well, in the short term, the next six
to eight weeks are going to be crucial.

So, we need to be ramping up
testing and data collection,

and getting vaccines and antivirals
to those who need them the most.

We also need to make quarantining
more logistically possible for people,

because monkeypox can require
as long as four weeks of isolation,

and for many,

that is going to be difficult
to manage without extra support.

But in the longer term, as if Covid had
not already made this abundantly clear,

we badly need to restructure
our public health system,

so it is better able to respond
to a viral outbreak.

And I'm not
the only one saying that.

Just listen to New York City's
health commissioner.

It is frustrating. We had a vaccine,
we have a treatment, we had a test.

And all of it was kind of rolled out
more slowly than we would have liked

because of the fact that our permanent
public health infrastructure

has not been invested in for decades.

Yeah. He's right,
and he is not alone.

Again and again, when we talked to
public health professionals this week,

there has been a sense
that this was a gigantic fuck-up.

Jay Varma, an epidemiologist
who previously worked at the CDC,

told us, "This was a real,
perfect stress test for us.

In this situation,
we were uniquely prepared.

We kind of had
the questions ahead of time.

We're going to throw you
a virus you already have a test for,

already have vaccine for, already
have a drug your government paid for

and developed and discovered
and stockpiled,

let's see how you respond to that.

And we screwed it up."

Which is humiliatingly bad.

Basically, on a scale
from one to 100, we scored a "No".

But the thing is,
even if we do contain this outbreak

and even if we build
up our public health infrastructure,

there is a bigger conversation
worth having here.

Because for far too long,
we've indulged in the magical thinking

that viruses that exist somewhere else,
A don't matter, and B will stay there.

And monkeypox
is such a clear example

of how flawed and racist
that thinking is.

We had 20 million doses
of a vaccine

that could've helped
countries in Africa

that were known
to be high-risk for outbreaks,

and we didn't help them.

And we're still not helping them.

The sudden global demand
for vaccines means that, currently,

zero doses are going to Nigeria
and other countries in Africa.

Which I know sounds awful,
but to be fair,

indifference to those
suffering from pox viruses

has been the story of America
from day one.

And I know fixing
all of this may feel daunting.

We are living through the alternative
right now, and it's not great!

And think of it this way,
if we can get our act together,

maybe finally, this country,
and indeed, the whole world,

can have the anal autumn
that we've all been promised.

And now, this!

And Now:
Walter from Butler, Indiana

Has Some Thoughts on Mortality.

Let's talk to Walter,
who's calling from Butler, Indiana.

Walter, good morning.

Good morning.
Thanks for taking my call.

I'm confused and I don't mean
to be snarky, but so what?

They die. You know, when you're
gonna die, you're gonna die.

I haven't been to a doctor's office
since, I'm 65, 40-something years?

I don't take any vitamins.

I don't try to eat well.
I do what I want, and I'm great.

When you're gonna go,
you're gonna go.

I've never taken
a medication in my life.

I've never taken anything
except a vitamin.

And I got all sorts of like hitches
and problems and this and that.

I don't go to a doctor.

And whenever the good Lord
is ready to take me home,

I'm going to be taken home.

And in the end, we all die anyway.
What does it matter which way you go?

Just shut up and deal
with life the best you can.

My friends and I would get out
of the house early in the morning

and we'd get on our bicycles,
and we'd play stickball in the streets.

And we wanted to go up to Sears,
actually hang on the back of a bus?

- And drive up over Fordham Road.
- Don't do that!

The mystery of life.
What's my endgame?

To be in a nursing home,
not knowing what I'm doing,

with drool coming out of my mouth and
everybody around me has been dead?

Not on my watch.
You don't win by staying around longer.

Everybody else passes away, and you
have nobody to care for you anyway.

I just think that you should
just throw out all your medications,

get up every day,
thank the Lord for the day you have.

And when it's gonna go, go.
Nothing is promised to you

and when you want to die,
just drop dead.

Let's go to Greg.

Thanks so much for watching,
see you next week, good night!