The SNL cast returned to the studio on Saturday for their first live in-person show since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, with Chris Rock serving as the host and Megan Thee Stallion as the musical guest for the season 46 premiere.
For the cold open, Alec Baldwin played Trump opposite Jim Carrey’s Joe Biden and recreated the first presidential candidate, which took place in Cleveland on Tuesday, three days before the commander-in-chief, 74, publicly announced on Twitter that he and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.
“You did take the COVID test you promised you’d take in advance,” asked Beck Bennett, who played moderator Chris Wallace. “Absolutely, scout’s honor,” Baldwin’s Trump replied. Days after the debate, the Fox News host said on air that “there was an honor system when it came to the people that came into the hall from the two campaigns.”
Then in the opening monologue, Rock, 55, kicked off his remarks with Trump’s hospitalization. “Before we get started, the elephant in the room. President Trump is in the hospital from COVID, I just want to say my heart goes out to COVID,” the Fargo actor said.
And during Weekend Update, Colin Jost and Michael Che started their segment with Trump’s diagnosis. “Well say what you will about 2020 but it’s got moves. This news was a lot for us to process a day before we came back on the air after four months off and it all happened so fast. I woke up yesterday and heard the president had mild symptoms. And then four hours later, he was getting medevaced to a hospital in what looked like the last chopper out of Vietnam,” Jost, 38, said.
“I gotta say it’s a bad sign for America that when Trump said he tested positive for a virus, 60 percent of people were like, ‘prove it.’ And it’s been very weird to see all these people, who clearly hate Trump, come out and say ‘we wish him well.’ I think a lot of them are just guilty that their first wish came true,” he said.
Che, 37, also chimed in and said, “While in the hospital, the president isn’t allowed to see any guests but he is expected to be visited by three ghosts, probably one from his past, one from his — okay this is weird! Because a lot of people on both sides are saying this is nothing funny about Trump being hospitalized with coronavirus even though he mocked the safety precautions for the coronavirus and those people are obviously wrong. There’s a lot funny about this, maybe not from a moral standpoint but mathematically, if you were constructing a joke this is all the ingredients you need. The problem is it’s almost too funny.”
Later, Che asked, “Is anyone surprised by this?” adding, “I honestly thought Trump was trying to get coronavirus. I thought it was like Groundhog Day when Bill Murray knew he couldn’t die, he was just trying anything. So all those maskless rallies Trump was having, that was him being safe? Look I don’t want the president to die, obviously. Actually, I wish him a very lengthy recovery.”
And Jost also joked about Trump’s tweets from the hospital. “I will say, that despite everything Trump actually seems to be in good spirits. He tweeted a message that said, ‘LOVE!!!,’ and three exclamation points so it sounds they’re cutting his hydroxychloroquine with a little bit of molly,” he said.
Lastly, the pair poked fun at the video message which Trump tweeted on Saturday evening. “Just hours ago, Trump released a video from the hospital saying he’s in better health, which is great news. Though I will point out that if the situation were reversed, and it was Biden who got sick, Trump would 100 percent be at a maskless rally tonight getting huge laughs, doing impressions of Biden on a ventilator. Just saying,” the A Very Punchable Face author said.
Trump was taken to Walter Reed Hospital on Friday afternoon after he announced earlier that morning that he and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19.
White House physician Dr. Sean Conley told reporters on Saturday morning that the president has experienced “mild symptoms” thus far and is scheduled to remain under observation for several days.
Meanwhile, a White House official said in a pool report on Saturday that Trump’s vitals were “very concerning,” adding, “The next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
The president’s diagnosis comes as more than 208,500 people have died in the U.S. as a result of the virus, while 7.3 million have been infected.
Trump has admitted he purposefully aimed to downplay COVID-19 in order to avoid “panic,” while being fully aware of the danger behind the highly contagious illness. At the same time, he publicly defied federal and global health experts, flaunted unproven cures and suggestions that the virus would “magically disappear,” and once projected that worry over the spread of the novel virus was merely the Democratic party’s “new hoax,” aimed to damage his presidency.