Dr. Phil Apologizes for Comparing Coronavirus Deaths to Swimming Pool Deaths


Dr. Phil McGraw has clarified his comments after comparing coronavirus deaths to deaths caused by automobile accidents, cigarettes and swimming pools.

“What I believe, regardless of what I may have come across as saying, is we need widespread testing and continued protection of the high-risk portion of the population,” the TV host, 69, said during a Facebook Live on Friday, April 17. “Last night I said we as a society have chosen to live with certain controllable deadly risk every day, smoking, auto crashes, swimming and, yes, I know that those are not contagious, so probably bad examples.”

The Oklahoma native went on to apologize “if I offended people’s sensibilities” and added, “If you didn’t like my choice of words, I apologize for that.” He also stated that he does agree with the CDC’s guidelines to shelter in place and social distance in order to “protect what is perhaps a small percentage of those for whom this virus is most dangerous.”

McGraw appeared on Laura Ingraham‘s news show, Ingraham Angle, on Thursday, April 16, where he discussed the possible negative effects of sheltering in place long term.

“The fact of the matter is, the longer this lockdown goes on, the more vulnerable people get,” McGraw said. “And it’s like there’s a tipping point. There’s a point at which people start having enough problems in lockdown that it will actually create more destruction and actually more deaths across time than the actual virus will itself. 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.”

He added that the country doesn’t shut down over deaths resulting from car accidents, smoking or swimming pool accidents.

“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, 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,” McGraw said.

According to the CDC, the U.S. only averaged 3,536 unintentional drowning deaths each year from 2005 to 2014. Deaths due to motor vehicle crashes were reported as 40,231 in 2017.

McGraw isn’t the only TV host who has backtracked on controversial remarks about resuming normal activities in the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Mehmet Oz apologized on Thursday, April 16, after he made a comment about the “appetizing” idea of reopening schools.

“I’ve realized my comments on risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention,” the Dr. Oz Show host, 59, said in a video message posted on Twitter. “I misspoke.”

Given the constantly evolving nature of COVID-19, UsWeekly wants our readers to have access to the most accurate resources. For the most up-to-date coronavirus information, guidance, and support, consult the CDCWHO, and information from local public health officials. If you’re experiencing coronavirus symptoms, call your primary care provider for medical advice.

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