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Bill Maher defends calling coronavirus 'Chinese virus,' mocks Ted Lieu

HBO's Bill MaherWilliam (Bill) MaherThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Masks off: CDC greenlights return to normal for vaccinated Americans Bill Maher tests positive for COVID-19 Maher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' MORE on Friday defended calling the novel coronavirus the "Chinese virus," arguing that "pretty liberal" scientists "have been naming diseases after the places they came from for a very long time."

The remarks from the "Real Time" host come after President TrumpDonald TrumpVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected Biden meets with DACA recipients on immigration reform Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers MORE had repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus" but stopped doing so late last month.

"Scientists, who are generally pretty liberal, have been naming diseases after the places they came from for a very long time," Maher said Friday night while broadcasting his weekly show from his home in California.

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"Zika is from the Zika Forest, Ebola from the Ebola River, hantavirus the Hantan River," he added. "There’s the West Nile virus and Guinea worm and Rocky Mountain spotted fever and, of course, the Spanish flu."

"MERS stands for Middle East respiratory syndrome," the host continued. "It’s plastered all over airports, and no one blogs about it. So why should China get a pass?"

Maher proceeded to respond to a tweet by Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuAsian American lawmakers say State's 'assignment restrictions' discriminate Democrats, activists blast Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Lawmakers praise Biden for expected recognition of Armenian Genocide MORE (D-Calif.), who criticized Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarDemocrat moves to censure three Republicans for downplaying Jan. 6 Gohmert says Jan. 6 mob attack on Capitol not an 'armed insurrection' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Colonial pays hackers as service is restored MORE (R-Ariz.) for calling the coronavirus "the Wuhan Virus" on March 8.

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"No, that would be way stupider because it didn’t come from Milan," said Maher. "And if it did, I guarantee we’d be calling it the Milan virus. Jesus f---ing Christ. Can’t we even have a pandemic without getting offended? When they named Lyme disease after a town in Connecticut, the locals didn’t get all ticked off?"

"This is about facts. It’s about life and death. We’re barely four months into this pandemic, and the wet markets in China — the ones where exotic animals are sold and consumed — are already starting to reopen," he later added.

"Sorry, Americans. We're going to have to ask you to keep two ideas in your head at the same time: This has nothing to do with Asian Americans, and it has everything to do with China," Maher concluded. "We can't afford the luxury anymore of nonjudginess towards a country with habits that kill millions of people everywhere because this isn't the first time. SARS came from China and the bird flu and the Hong Kong flu, the Asian flu. Viruses come from China just like shortstops come from the Dominican Republic. If they were selling nuclear suitcases at these wet markets, would we be so nonjudgmental?"

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Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci: COVID-19 vaccine could lead to 'breakthrough' in HIV fight GOP lawmaker calls for Wuhan probe to 'prevent the next pandemic' Trump bemoans lack of vaccine credit amid mask news MORE, the nation's top infectious disease expert and leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, called on wet markets to be closed earlier this month because of the threat they pose.

They "should shut down those things right away," Fauci told "Fox & Friends." "It just boggles my mind that when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface that we don’t just shut it down."

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP governors move to cut unemployment benefits as debate rages over effects Trump critics push new direction for GOP Graham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' MORE (R-S.C.) has also called for wet markets to be closed, calling their existence "crazy and dangerous."

“Bringing wild and exotic animals to open markets to interact with humans and other food supplies is both crazy and dangerous,” Graham tweeted earlier this month. “Hope my Republican and Democratic Senate colleagues will sign onto my letter to the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. urging the immediate closure of these wet markets for the safety of the world at large.”

The U.S. death toll stands at 18,780, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with cases surpassing the 500,000 mark as testing continues to escalate.