Dr. Oz Draws Outrage for Calling Schools ‘Appetizing’ Opportunity For Re-Opening Despite More Death (UPDATED)
Television doctor and regular Fox News guest Dr. Mehmet Oz drew major outcry for using a network appearance to describe what some might consider an acceptable tradeoff for restarting the country despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Joining Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, Oz spoke of how Americans “need our mojo back — let’s start with things that are really critical to the nation.” So he floated the possibility that schools could soon be one of the first institutions to re-open in the country without too much risk of a new outbreak.
“I tell ya, schools are a very appetizing opportunity,” Oz said. “I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3% in terms of total mortality.”
“Any life is a life lost,” Oz continued, “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.”
The Lancet article Oz was referring to states that “Recent modeling studies of COVID-19 predict that school closures alone would prevent only 2-4% of deaths, much less than other social distancing interventions.”
Those stats are not restricted to children however — as many on social media have suggested — they extend to the entire American population, which boils down to millions of people who might contract the virus.
Another factor worth bearing in mind is that the article says “combinations of social distancing measures should be considered.” So even though the Lancet says school closures would only prevent “2-4% of deaths,” it would seem they recommend more social distancing, rather than less.
Oz is hardly alone among those clamoring for a national restart, but between him calling school reopening an “appetizing opportunity” and treating a 2 to 3 percent mortality risk originating from schools as a viable possibility, media observers were livid that he would even casually propose this “tradeoff” on TV.
The Hippocratic Oath – Dr. Oz edition: First, do 2 to 3 % harm. https://t.co/QUDYQDO5XL
— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) April 16, 2020
Dr. Oz is a danger to public health. There’s no other way to put it.
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) April 16, 2020
Is this the most perverse thing ever said about COVID-19? https://t.co/Pef9x51yll
— Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence) April 16, 2020
Oh! Only two to three percent more death with children as the vectors! What a deal! https://t.co/YyZrkCYWJY
— Sam Stein (@samstein) April 16, 2020
Watch above, via Fox News.
UPDATE 6:30 p.m. — In a video posted to Twitter, Dr. Oz retracted his comments, saying, “I’ve realized my comments on risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention. I misspoke.”
I’ve realized my comments on risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention. I misspoke. pic.twitter.com/Kq1utwiCjR
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) April 16, 2020
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