Dr. Oz apologizes for saying schools should reopen because ‘only 2 to 3 percent’ more people could die


Dr. Oz is backtracking on comments he made on Fox News amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The TV doc (real name: Mehmet Oz) faced backlash for saying on Hannity that schools should reopen to get the country going again — as that “may only cost us 2 to 3 percent in terms of total mortality.” He said those deaths “might be a trade-off some folks would consider.”

The Dr. Oz Show host has since apologized, saying he he “misspoke” when he minimized the risk and potential loss of life.

“I’ve realized my comments about risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention,” he said in a recorded video. “I misspoke. As a heart surgeon, I spent my career fighting to save lives in the operating room by minimizing risks.”

He continued, “At the same time, I’m being asked constantly: How will we be able to get people back to their normal lives. To do that, one of the important steps will be figuring out how do we get our children safely back to school. We know for many kids, school is a place of security, nutrition and learning that is missing right now. These are issues we are all wrestling with and I will continue looking for solutions to beat this virus.”

On Tuesday’s Hannity, Oz said that the first step in reopening the country would be to “get our mojo back.”

He continued, “Let’s start with things that are really critical to the nation where we think we might be able to open without getting in a lot of trouble. I tell you — schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3 percent, in terms of total mortality. Any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into a school where they’re safely being educated, being fed and making the most out of their lives with a theoretical risk on the backside, that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider.”

Oz has been offering ongoing commentary to Fox News during the pandemic, with the Washington Post pointing out the school death comments were “only one of dozens of pronouncements that Oz has offered on Fox since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, during which the network has turned to him on a range of topics far outside his background as cardiothoracic surgeon.”

Earlier this month, Anthony S. Fauci, President Trump’s infectious disease expert, questioned another of Oz’s claims on Fox & Friends when he supported the use of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug, in treating COVID-19. He said, “Although there is some suggestion [of effectiveness] with the study that was just mentioned by Dr. Oz .... I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug. We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one ... is truly safe and effective.”

Oz and other celebrity health experts have been busy as talking heads amid the pandemic — but there has been one misstep after another. Dr. Drew Pinsky — an internist who found fame hosting shows like Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew — was criticized for calling COVID-19 “way less serious than influenza” and “a press-induced panic.” He compared the probability of dying from the disease to being “hit by an asteroid” — though the U.S. death rate is now over 33,000.

Meanwhile, Dr. Phil McGraw, who is not a medical doctor (he’s a former psychologist) was trending on Twitter Friday after citing incorrect statistics to Fox News’s Laura Ingraham. McGraw, who like Oz rose to fame as an expert on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, questioned why the economy would shut down over the pandemic when it was never shuttered when people die from lung cancer, car crashes and pool drownings. None of those causes of death are contagious, it was pointed out. He also cited incorrect data — for instance saying 360,000 people a year die from swimming pool deaths when the number is around 3,500, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.

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