Dr. Phil McGraw’s comments comparing swimming pool and car accident deaths to the coronavirus pandemic have him in hot water.
“The fact of the matter is, the longer this lockdown goes on, the more vulnerable people get,” McGraw said. “And it’s like there’s a tipping point. There’s a point at which people start having enough problems in lockdown that it will actually create more destruction and actually more deaths across time than the actual virus will itself.”
The TV personality continued, noting that the country doesn’t shutdown over every day deaths that result from car accidents or smoking.
“The poverty line is getting such that more and more people are going to fall below that because the economy is crashing around us, and they’re doing that because people are dying from the coronavirus. I get that,” McGraw said.
He added: “The fact of the matter is we have people dying, 45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools, but we don’t shut the country down for that, but yet we’re doing it for this? And the fallout is going to last for years because people’s lives are being destroyed.”
McGraw addressed his “Ingraham Angle” comments during a Facebook Live video Friday saying that he supports the CDC’s guidelines of sheltering at home and social distancing and has supported the shutdown to “protect what is perhaps a small percentage of those for whom this virus is most dangerous.”
“What I believe, regardless of what I may have come across as saying, is we need widespread testing and continued protection of the high risk portion of the population,” McGraw said. “Last night I said we as a society have chosen to live with certain controllable deadly risk everyday, smoking, auto crashes, swimming and yes I know that those are not contagious, so probably bad examples.”
He encouraged his viewers to listen to their government officials’ guidelines of staying at home until they believe it’s safe to lift lockdown measures.
“If you didn’t like my choice of words, I apologize for that,” McGraw said. “Know this, I’m concerned about you, that’s my number one concern here.”
McGraw’s comments come just a few days after Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s top doctors in charge of leading the response to the coronavirus pandemic, said the U.S. is probably not ready to reopen the economy by May 1, a proposed timeline outlined by President Donald Trump.
McGraw’s appearance on “The Ingraham Angle,” made him the topic of discussion on Twitter, with many people calling out his calculations.
“Dr. Phil went on Fox News + said we shouldn’t shut the country down because of COVID. He claimed 360,000 people die every year from swimming pool accidents and we ‘don’t shut the country down for that.’ Actual number is 3,600. + swimming pool accidents aren’t contagious Phil,” tweeted Michael Skolnik.
According to the CDC, between 2005 and 2014, there was an average of 3,536 unintentional drownings per year.
In Friday’s Facebook video, McGraw clarified that when addressing the amount of swimming pool deaths, he was quoting the World Health Organization’s number of 320,000 people drowning annually.
Others pointed out the fact that Dr. Phil is not a licensed physician.
“Dr Phil isn’t an MD, he has a PHD in clinical psychology,” wrote Molly Jong-Fast.
“I would suggest Dr. Phil do what some other doctors are doing, and volunteer to help out in overburdened hospitals or nursing homes, or offer free home visits or tele-consultations to people who shouldn’t go out. But of course he’s not a doctor,” wrote Bill Kristol.
McGraw’s comments came shortly after TV personality Dr. Oz said he “misspoke” making controversial comments where he advocated the opening of the nations schools despite the trade-off of an increase in the total mortality rate.
“It would be a gift to the world and would probably save a lot of lives if Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz never made another television appearance for the rest of eternity,” tweeted Adrienne Elrod.
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