Bill Maher abolished handshakes on his show Friday, opting for a more sanitary Japanese bow as he greeted guests. They included a top epidemiologist he grilled about humanity’s odds at surviving the coronavirus, why it’s called COVID, if his dogs can catch it and whether Bernie Sanders should be pressing the flesh so much at campaign events.
The 78-year-old candidate had a heart attack last year, has a grueling schedule and is constantly in airplanes “and in rallies where he is touching people all day long,” said the comedian on Real Time With Bill Maher, sounding truly concerned. “What’s the over-under of him making it to the election,” he asked Dr. Anne Rimoin, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at UCLA and Director of the Fielding School’s Center for Global and Immigrant Health.
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“If you like Bernie, don’t touch him!,” said Maher.
The Center for Disease Control is now calling the coronavirus COVID19, he noted in his opening monologue. “You know a disease is serious when they give it a rap name.”
“Assume everyone is infectious. That’s the same warning they give everyone on The Bachelor,” he said, trying to take some comfort in the fact that in Los Angeles, “the air is so toxic that anything that comes out of anyone’s mouth dies immediately.”
But he seemed rattled as many are, including investors who shaved $6 billion in wealth from global stock markets over the past week. “Bloomberg is not even sure anymore if he can buy the country,” Maher said.
My message is, you’re going to hear some scary things. In Hong Kong they think a dog tested positive. … I told my two dogs, ‘Bark into your elbow and do not drink out of the same toilet.”
He noted that the world got through SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, 2003), Swine Flu (2009) and other contagions, making the audience repeat with him: “Flus will not replace us. Flus will not replace us.”
Rimoin explained coronavirus isn’t a flu but a virus that usually infects only animals and that scientists suspect it was passed at an open air market in China from bats to small animals called pangolins, which look like armadillos and are widely trafficked and eaten.
“Whatever it is, they always end, right? he asked her.