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Jimmy Fallon delivered one last monologue on Thursday before The Tonight Show suspended production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The comedian sat down before an empty audience on set in New York City as he explained the decision.
“As of this morning, we planned to do a show with a full audience,” he said. “But as the day progressed and the more we thought about it, we and NBC decided it would be smarter to not have an audience in order to do our part to help decrease the spread of the coronavirus.”
“Like you, I’m watching the news and I’m just as confused and freaked out as you are,” he continued. “But what I do know if when we’re there for each other, we’re at our best, and I am here for you, we are here are for you.”
He went on to crack jokes about Sarah Palin and President Donald Trump, including the president’s response to the outbreak, to quiet laughter from staffers and members of the show’s band, The Roots. It would become his last monologue for the time being.
Beginning Friday, The Tonight Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers have suspended production through their previously planned hiatuses, NBC confirmed to PEOPLE on Thursday. The hiatuses were scheduled for the week of March 23.
The Tonight Show taped an original episode on Thursday without an audience, featuring guests Dr. Oz, Mandy Moore and Dane DeHaan. Late Night did not tape a new episode on Thursday, but rather aired an encore episode.
The network said it will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions about future shows as it gets closer to beginning production.
The announcement came after several New York City-based morning, daytime and late-night programs decided to pull live audiences due to growing concerns amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Several other TV shows have also halted or delayed production.
The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic on Wednesday, urging world leaders and citizens to take action to help stop the spread.
Trump is set to declare an emergency over the pandemic, Bloomberg reports. The president, 73, tweeted Friday morning that he will hold a news conference in the afternoon.
According to Bloomberg, Trump would declare an emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, better known as the Stafford Act.
Such a declaration would unlock about $42 billion in relief funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to support state and local governments.
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