Dr. Phil McGraw must have seen Dr. Mehmet Oz spew stupid thoughts about Coronavirus mortality rates on Fox News and thought, “That’s cute, but if you wanted a quack, you should have come talked to the king.” Because that’s pretty much what happened yesterday. Dr. Phil appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, The Ingraham Angle, to give his expert medical opinion about COVID-19. Specifically, to wonder out loud why America is still shut down. Because according to Dr. Phil, lots of people die every day from a whole bunch of stuff, and we don’t shut the country down for them.
Laura began by suggesting that there’s a much scarier pandemic on the horizon that is far more devastating than COVID-19, and that’s the anxiety people are experiencing over the economy. Since anxiety falls under the umbrella of what Dr. Phil does best (aka exploiting mental illness on television), he appeared live via satellite with some “facts.”
According to recent numbers, there have been nearly 35,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States, with an estimated 677,472 confirmed cases. That technically means about 5% of COVID-19 cases end in death. According to Dr. Oz, 2 to 3% of the population would find themselves in the morgue if schools re-open. Meanwhile, there are nurses and doctors (real ones) who are working overtime to get the death rate down to 0%. But Dr. Phil has some death numbers too. But according to him, so many more people are going to die if you don’t reopen the economy, because COVID-19 is no match for being poor. Oh, and also – stop stressing out, because coronavirus hasn’t killed nearly as many people as swimming pools and cigarettes.
“Two hundred fifty people a year die from poverty, and 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. But look, 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, 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.”
I would ask Dr. Phil where he got his facts from, but I have a feeling he’d look at me all confused like, “Fa-cts? What is facts? I don’t know that word.” Because here’s what I found, courtesy of the CDC. According to them, between 2005 and 2014, there was an average of 3,563 deaths per year from accidental drowning. Not 360,000. The WHO estimates 320,000 drowning deaths per year, worldwide. There have been a reported 146,291 deaths worldwide from COVID-19. And those numbers are just from when the outbreak started in December.
Dr. Phil isn’t wrong about smoking killing a whole lot of people, but the thing is: people choose to smoke. Like, I know the risks I’m taking when I order 4 cheeseburgers at McDonald’s. But no one is able to walk into a crowded Old Navy and say, “Excuse me, no COVID-19 for me today. Not interested.” Dr. Phil also later tried to argue that it’s better for people to go out and live their lives while attempting to “protect themselves,” rather than isolating at home, because isolation “destroys more lives.”
Laura also brought up the fact that school-aged kids are struggling at the moment. Dr. Phil is very concerned about that. He pointed out that kids in isolation might be falling behind in school, not doing any of their assigned school work, or just simply skipping all their online classes. Oh, suddenly Dr. Phil is worried about the children? Clearly Fox News was interviewing an alien pretending to be Dr. Phil. Because the real Dr. Phil McGraw would hear that the nation’s children are turning into messy uneducated delinquents, and exclaim: “Great, tell them to call my producers!”