Television "doctors" have made headlines in recent days after making irresponsible claims about coronavirus. Dr. Phil — who is not a licensed doctor — recently appeared on Laura Ingraham's show on Fox News to compare coronavirus deaths to automobile crashes and swimming pool accidents.
"Two-hundred-and-fifty people die a year from poverty," Dr. Phil stated, "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," he added, "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 [it's actually 3,600] 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."
Dr. Oz — who is a licensed doctor — also made headlines when he suggested that reopening America's schools presented an "appetizing opportunity" because the additional spread associated with schools might "only" kill 2% to 3% more people.
"We need our mojo back," Dr. 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."
"I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet [medical journal] arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us 2-3% in terms of total mortality," Dr. Oz went on to explain. "And you know, any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into a school where they're safely being educated and being fed and making the most out of their lives with a theoretical risk on the backside, it might be a tradeoff some folks would consider."
Unsurprisingly, both sets of comments attracted criticism online. One user wrote of Dr. Phil's comments: "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."
And now, the pair is even being criticized by a fellow television doctor. Ellen Pompeo, the actress who played Dr. Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy, laid into the pair on Twitter over the weekend. But first, she started with people who are protesting stay-at-home orders across the country.
"They didn’t get the memo that this isn’t about them," Pompeo wrote. "So if any of them get sick they should be fine with just going home and staying home caring for themselves... you don’t have the right to ask for help from people you didn’t care about when you were waving your flag."
She went on to lay into Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, writing: "Also the old white guy tv docs who say stupid selfish shit should yes... walk that s**t right back to your lazy boys and sit your stupid asses down in your living rooms on your golf courses where you live... tired out of touch old fools don’t get me started today."
"Also to those out of touch TV docs which I’m sure they would call me lol," Pompeo continued, "you took an oath so so many years ago to do no harm... making careless statements in this environment when so many healthcare workers are suffering physically and emotionally.... is defying that oath."
Pompeo concluded: "I love this because... they have been so busy in their dressing rooms getting their faces powdered and worrying about their ratings... they have no idea what doctors and healthcare professionals on the front lines actually do or they just don’t care."
Unsurprisingly, commenters seemed to love the attack. One user wrote: "Go off, it’s about time someone with a platform says something about this."
While another added: "It's great you are using your platform to enlighten people, keep it coming."
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.