Fox News regular Dr. Mehmet Oz had to walk back comments that seemed to imply reopening schools during a pandemic is an intriguing idea.
The TV medicine man suggested on the right-wing cable channel that getting kids back into their pre-coronavirus routine “may only cost us 2 to 3%, in terms of total mortality,” which he seemingly indicated was a sacrifice to consider. Oz later admitted he had chosen his words poorly.
The former “Oprah Winfrey Show” medical pundit said that thinking was inspired by a report he came across in an English medical journal, though it’s unclear how he defines “total mortality,”
“Any, you know, any life is a life lost, but that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider,” he said.
Oz’s initial remarks aired Tuesday night during an interview with Sean Hannity, who has been accused by journalism scholars of recklessly reporting politically motivated coverage during the pandemic. Hannity stands by his coverage.
The pair was discussing reopening the country that has been crippled by the highly contagious coronavirus, which has so far infected more than 629,000 Americans, killing 26,708 according to Johns Hopkins University.
“We need our mojo back,” Oz said. “Let’s start with things that are really critical to the nation where we think we might be able to open without getting into a lot of trouble. I tell you, schools are a very appetizing opportunity.”
Oz’s comment were quickly seized upon on social media, where his words were met with alarm. Fox News’ rival network CNN put forward its medical expert Dr. Sanjay Gupta to give context to Oz’s remarks.
“The model suggests that maybe some 60,000 people will lose their lives, sadly, to this disease. How much are we gaining by the various measure that we’re putting in place,” Gupta said. "The closing of schools they say may be contributing only to 2-3% of that.”