Hi, it’s me again—SARS-CoV-2.
Well, I have to say, America, you have done a remarkable job at getting each other sick since we last spoke. You now account for one-third of all the cases in the world even though you are only 1/25th of the global population. And the Trump Pandemic now has a brigade of armed supporters willing to fight to defend their right to kill nurses and delivery people.
We will remember those who fought gallantly on the Beaches of Huntington at the Battle of Happy Hour, bringing new meaning to “hammer and dance”—as in getting really hammered and then dancing around in close proximity. “Don’t Tread on Me” for sure, but mind if I cough on you?
Anyway, I was hanging out at this hair salon in Texas, and I ran into my old pal H1N1, who was chilling on the credit-card reader waiting for the next customer. The following is an exact transcript of our discussion.
SARS-CoV-2: I keep seeing these red MAGA hats out in the world … What does that stand for?
H1N1: Pretty sure it means: “Make America Gasp for Air.”
SARS-CoV-2: That makes sense …
H1N1: Either that or “Millions Are Gonna Asphyxiate”?
SARS-CoV-2: Also good. I wonder if they make those in sizes for viruses.
H1N1: So, I have to say, you have been crushing it out there. I read they were only expecting you to kill about 60,000 people by August—and now look at you! Over 80,000 dead and it’s still only May! I’m lucky if I can knock out 40,000 folks in a good year …
SARS-CoV-2: Well, I’ve had so much help. I mean, right out of the gate, Donnie Dangerous told everyone in February that I was a flu … “Just like the flu” … “Treat it like the flu” … “We never close down for the flu.”
H1N1: But you and I are nothing alike. I’ve been around for years. He barely knows you.
SARS-CoV-2: True. But I am taking a tour of the White House, so that might change any day now.
The Trump Pandemic now has a brigade of armed supporters willing to fight to defend their right to kill nurses and delivery people.
H1N1: Well, we only know you’re there because the people who work in the White House get tested every day … which is more than the people who work at Amazon can say.
SARS-CoV-2: Right, but as Kayleigh McEnany said, the president “will always protect American citizens. We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here.” And by “protect” she meant protect them from the truth about just how bad it is, and by “here” she meant the rooms in the White House where she works.
H1N1: But didn’t he say everybody in America who wants a test can get one—
SARS-CoV-2: But who would want a test that doesn’t even work—I mean, the F.D.A. approved a new test the other day that involves flipping a coin. It’s right 50 percent of the time, which is better than a lot of the ones out there. That’s probably why she pointed out that it would be absurd to test everyone in America for a disease that threatens everyone in America.
H1N1: Not sure I quite under—
SARS-CoV-2: Because if you did test everyone, you would learn that tens of millions of people are going to get sick because the president failed to take action when he was first told about this at the beginning of the year. And he’s been dicking around without a coherent policy ever since—when he could have acted quickly and saved lives and the economy, ergo it would be totally absurd for him to create a nationwide testing program now. Admitting you fucked up and thinking you could still be re-elected is totally absurd. Better for people to just think of me as the flu …
H1N1: O.K., but you are not at all like the flu. I don’t scar people’s lungs for life or cause long-term heart damage. And I only kill about 0.1 percent of the people I infect … You kill at least 10 times that.
SARS-CoV-2: You’re just jelly because you had Obama and smart people to deal with and things didn’t go the way you hoped—
H1N1: Also, my rate of infection is only about 1.3 for every case. I hear yours could be as high as 3! Maybe even higher!
SARS-CoV-2: Shhh … We know he doesn’t read, but he might be able to hear you.
They were only expecting you to kill about 60,000 people by August—and now look at you! Over 80,000 dead and it’s still only May!
H1N1: I saw that Vice President Pence said this whole coronavirus thing will largely be behind America by Memorial Day …
SARS-CoV-2: What he meant is that I will be behind him specifically—meaning I will be infecting his assistant, and all the other people who are usually standing directly behind him.
H1N1: Got it.
SARS-CoV-2: So, are most of the people you infect black or brown or poor people or ones working in meat-processing plants where they don’t have tests like they do at the White House?
H1N1: I never really think about it that way—
SARS-CoV-2: Me neither, but that is the beauty of Donnie Dipshit—he thinks about things in ways you and I never would.
Pence said this whole coronavirus thing will largely be behind America by Memorial Day.
H1N1: So, how many people do you really—gulp—plan on infecting here?
SARS-CoV-2: Well, seeing as how Donnie Darkness just decided to ignore his own experts’ guidelines for opening up the country—and Dr. Fauci is now in quarantine—I’m pretty sure I can make it to 50 percent without breaking a sweat.
H1N1: In America? Whoa. That’s like 160 million people! Baller!
SARS-CoV-2: And what’s 1 percent of that?
H1N1: 1.6 million! Wait. You could kill that many people if they don’t find a treatment or vaccine—or a coherent leader?
SARS-CoV-2: It’s like Jared Kushner said: the coronavirus response has been a huge success for the federal government. They will be remembered for the work they did here for generations. Without their help, I would never be where I am today—in every state, every county.
H1N1: Um, wait, who is Jared Kushner?
SARS-CoV-2: The guy who brought peace to the Middle East.
H1N1: You’re being sarcastic?
SARS-CoV-2: Exactly, just like when Donnie Disinfectant suggested that people inject bleach into their veins if they get sick. Sarcasm. Or like Dr. Birx said on the Christian Broadcasting Network, “He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data, and I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit.” The guy’s businesses go bankrupt about as often as Fox News runs commercials for adult incontinence. And since when is the drive-through menu at McDonald’s considered scientific literature? She was obviously being sarcastic. I mean, Pinocchio was a puppet just like her, but even he wasn’t that stupid. Besides, her nose stays the same size—only her scarves seem to grow.
H1N1: I get it now. So, when the governor of Georgia said he just found out that you can be spread by people who are asymptomatic after pretty much everyone on earth already knew that … Sarcasm?
SARS-CoV-2: I don’t know, man. You’re on your own with that one.
H1N1: Hey, I have a question for you—were you really made in a lab in China by some evil monster, like Donnie Deathtrap says?
SARS-CoV-2: I think he has me confused with his neckties, which do come from China and have made more people sick than I ever will. His own intelligence guys say I probably came from the biggest lab in the world—nature. The same one that is making climate change right this very second. But I should really get back out there. They’re hard at work on a vaccine.
H1N1: No worries. They’ve had a vaccine for me for years but only about 45 percent of them bother to get it. I even saw a video on YouTube that said the flu shot was being used by Big Pharma to infect people with you! And a bunch of them still think the earth is flat. So, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.
Scott Z. Burns wrote the screenplay for Contagion. He is donating his fee for this article to onefamilyla.com