On July 7, Fox News’ Fox & Friends returned to form with dangerous coronavirus coverage by once again suggesting that the reaction to the pandemic, which has killed over 130,000 Americans in four months, is overblown because most people with coronavirus don’t die -- an argument the channel relentlessly pushed in April, more than 50,000 deaths ago.
Dr. Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institute claimed on last night’s edition of Fox News’ The Story that COVID-19 is “not a high-risk disease for people under 70, it’s certainly not a high-risk disease for people under 30 or 40, who almost all recover,” a claim Fox & Friends repeated in a news-style “headlines” segment this morning.
Co-host Brian Kilmeade summarized this argument as “stop focusing on the [number of] cases” because “the fatality rate’s 0.04%” for people under 70. Fox contributor Dr. Marc Siegel said, “I agree with that completely,” and added that only “3.9% of all the deaths are under age 44.”
Co-host Steve Doocy later cited “an editorial in the New York Post” (actually an op-ed from John Ziegler at Mediaite, where it was first published) to downplay the virus’s impact, arguing that “in April, the 21st day, the average death [toll] in the United States was 2,225 deaths. Now it is about 500, which is terrible, but about this time of year, 1,400 people die in nursing homes every day."
These arguments are a return to Fox News’ earlier, weekslong campaign to downplay the national death toll and Atlas’ April attempt to argue against lockdowns with, in part, the same reasoning that Fox & Friends cited today.
In reality, studies then and now have found that the COVID-19 death toll is actually being under-reported, and there continue to be incidents of under-reporting across the country. Fox & Friends was also short on discussion of the sometimes nonfatal but still serious health complications that seem to be either caused or triggered by COVID-19, including diabetes, permanent lung damage, strokes, psychosis, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, and more.