TV personality Dr. Phil McGraw appeared on Fox News on Thursday evening to slam the shutdowns intended to stop the spread of coronavirus.
McGraw, a psychologist, talked about the mental health toll on people living in isolation and said the lockdowns would “create more destruction and actually more death across time than the actual virus will itself.” Then, he compared the toll of the virus to other causes of death.
“Forty-five thousand people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools,” McGraw said, “but we don’t shut the country down for that. But yet we’re doing it for this?”
Some of McGraw’s numbers were off. According to the CDC, there are about 3,500 fatal unintentional drownings per year in the United States; another 32,000 are killed in motor vehicle accidents.
Swimming deaths and traffic fatalities are also not contagious.
But lockdowns make people lonely, McGraw said, and loneliness will increase the risk of stroke, coronary artery disease and dementia.
“It’s not just that it’s psychological, their bodies actually start breaking down,” he claimed, adding:
“We think we’re protecting people’s lives by keeping them locked up. You keep them locked up long enough, there’s a paradoxical effect, you actually destroy more lives than you do by letting them go out and protect themselves and opt into their lives to fight for what they believe in.”
At the time of this writing, COVID-19 has sickened more than 663,000 people and killed more than 30,000 in the United States alone, with both numbers still rising. For the week beginning April 6, COVID-19 was America’s number two cause of death, behind heart disease and ahead of cancer, per The Washington Post.
McGraw also took questions from viewers via Twitter, then attacked the stay-home orders again.
“This will end soon,” he predicted. “We probably shouldn’t have ever started this, but just realize there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
McGraw spoke earlier this month to Deadline about the crisis and how people are responding to it.
“If someone turns out to be a hero in a crisis, they were a hero waiting for a crisis,” he said. “If they turn out to be a real jerk, they were a jerk waiting for a stage.”
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