Abstract: How do populists govern in crisis? We address this question by analyzing the actions of technocratic populists in power during the first wave of the novel coronavirus crisis in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. We identify three features of the populist pandemic response. First, populists bypassed established, institutionalized channels of crisis response. Second, they engaged in erratic yet responsive policy making. These two features are ubiquitous to populism. The third feature, specific to technocratic populism, is the politicization of expertise in order to gain legitimacy. Technocratic populists in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia weaponized medical expertise for political purposes.