Dr. Phil Under Fire for Wild Coronavirus Interview on Fox News

Dr. Phil (Credit: Fox News)

Dr. Phil has sparked anger for downplaying the coronavirus pandemic, and criticizing government mandates shutting down non-essential businesses to slow the spread of the virus.

The television host, real name Phil McGraw, appeared on Fox News Thursday night.

McGraw, who is a psychologist, said living in isolation amid shelter-in-place orders will lead to more deaths in the United States over time, than the virus itself.

“The longer this lockdown goes on, the more vulnerable people beget,” he told host Laura Ingraham. “People start having enough problems in lockdown that it will actually create more destruction and actually more death across time than the actual virus will itself.”

Related Story: Spike Lee Pleads With African Americans to Take Coronavirus Seriously

McGraw then compared the death toll from COVID-19 to accidental deaths caused by car accidents and drownings, as he demanded business reopen.

“The economy is crashing around us and they’re doing that because people are dying because of coronavirus,” he said. “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 from swimming pools – but we don’t shut the country for that.”

Related Story: Fox Business Network Ousts Anchor Who Called Coronavirus a ‘Scam’

But McGraw’s numbers were way off. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 3,536 people died annually from unintentional drownings in the U.S. from 2005-2014. That’s about ten deaths per day.

Meanwhile, the CDC says as of April 14, there were 31,071 (26,930 confirmed; 4,141 probable) coronavirus deaths since the outbreak began.

McGraw’s comments caused anger on social media, making him a top trending topic on Friday morning.

The uproar surrounding McGraw came after similar fallout for Dr. Mehmet Oz , who later said he “misspoke” Tuesday on Fox News, when he called for reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

During the interview, Dr. Oz admitted some children would die, but he suggested it wouldn’t be a big deal because the nation would see “only 2 to 3 percent” more fatalities.

He posted an apology video on Twitter Thursday after facing intense criticism.

“I’ve realized my comments on risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention. I misspoke,” Dr. Oz said.