NEW YORK — Television’s “Dr. Oz” says he misspoke during a Fox News Channel appearance this week where he said reopening schools was a “very appetizing opportunity” despite the coronavirus epidemic.
In a Twitter post late Thursday, Mehmet Oz, the heart surgeon and television talk show host said he recognized his comments had confused and upset people, and that was never his intention.
Oz was talking with Fox’s Sean Hannity on Tuesday about ways to get “our mojo back” during the epidemic and mentioned schools, which are largely closed across the United States.
“I just saw a nice piece in the Lancet arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us two to three per cent in terms of total mortality,” he said.
“You know, any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into school where they are being safely educated, being fed and making the most out of their lives with the theoretical risk on the backside might be a trade-off some folks would consider,” he said.
It’s not clear exactly what he was trying to say — if he meant that a certain number of deaths was worth the benefit of schools resuming — and a representative was not immediately available to clarify on Friday.
Canadians were quick to respond, expressing their anger on Twitter that the TV doctor seemed to be suggesting children’s lives mattered less than returning to business as usual.
Haudenosaunee writer and social justice activist Alicia Elliot questioned how we got to this stage of “killer capitalism.”
Fredericton investor and software executive Jeff Thompson called on CTV to stop carrying the Dr. Oz show.
Erin Pepler, a journalist from Toronto, mocked Oz’s suggestion, saying, “You would literally be better off listening to my mom’s friend who thinks vinegar cures Covid-19 because Facebook said so.”
Ottawa-based author Amanda Jetté Knox got creative in her outrage, riffing on Dr Seuss’s iconic book “Sam I Am,” with her own Dr. Oz ditty on Twitter.
Others were less kind, branding Oz a “cold-hearted jerk” and claiming if the doctor’s own child was sick with COVI-19, he would be doling out much different advice.
In Oz’s own Twitter response, after the backlash, he said that he’s spent his career fighting to save lives by minimizing risk. But he’s constantly being asked how people can get back to their normal lives.
“To do that, one of the important steps will be figuring out how to get our children safely back to school,” he said. “We know for many kids school is a place of security, nutrition and learning that is missing right now.
“These are issues that we are all wrestling with and I’ll continue to look for solutions to beat this virus,” he said.
With files from Valerie Howes