Fox News contributor likens COVID-19 to the flu: “This was not, and is not, a pandemic”

Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett: “But we do have panic and pandemonium as a result of the hype of this”

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Citation From the April 13, 2020, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): So, when looking at the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, the figures may seem scary. But our next guest is putting the data into perspective, so to speak, highlighting the promising numbers that are often overlooked, and it is all in his new op-ed titled “An Advantaged Disease, Indeed.”

Let's bring in former education secretary, Fox News contributor, best-selling author Bill Bennett. Bill, what are we missing about this virus? We see the numbers — 22,000 dead, how many cases. But you took a step back, and what did you find?

BILL BENNETT (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Yeah, let's take a step back. The estimates now from the University of Washington, which is the model everybody's been going on — even though it's been wrong most of the time, by a lot, overstating it — is now, they say 60,000 people will die. Sixty-one thousand is what we lost to the flu in 2017 and 2018 — the flu. Now, we all regret the loss of 61,000 people, if that's what it turns out to be — I'm going to tell you, I think it's going to be less — and salute all those who are working on the front lines on this, the hospital workers, the nurses, the doctors, etc., and the generosity of the American people. But if you look at those numbers, and see the comparable, we're going to have fewer fatalities from this than from the flu. For this, we scared the hell out of the American people, we lost 17 million jobs, we put a major dent in the economy, we closed down the schools — you heard Dr. [Mehmet] Oz say we probably didn't have to do that — shut down the churches, and so on. You know, this was not, and is not, a pandemic. But we do have panic and pandemonium as a result of the hype of this. And it's really unfortunate. Look at the facts.

KILMEADE: Well, it is labeled a pandemic. But you also point out that you believe from the number that you're able to see, if you get it you have a 98% chance of survival.

BENNETT: Correct, less than two-tenths of 1% — if you're an average American, two-tenths of 1% chance that you're going to get it -- two-tenths. And if you get it, you have a 98% chance of recovery. These things are very rarely heard out there. As Dr. Oz was just saying, people with the comorbidities — who have, you know heart disease, very high blood pressure, who are 75 years old — I'm in my 70s — these are the real risks. But we have scared the heck out of everybody. And you know, psychologically as a people — remember 9/11? We talked about, “Let's roll.” In this one, there's been too much, “Let's roll up in a ball, let's hide under the bed.” This is not the way America works. Let's get back to work.

And by the way, on this back-to-work thing, there's this metaphor that seems to be governing the conversation, this “flip on the light switch.” You don't flip on the light switch. Get a three-way bulb. You know, you don't have to go all the way to 100, go to 70 — 50, 70, and then 85. But, you know, the country has suffered enormously. To say nothing of what has occurred as a result of the shutdown in terms of fatalities — 300% increase in the suicide hotline, big increase in opioid epidemic. How much domestic violence? Child protective services can't get to people's houses. There are real costs to panic and pandemonium.

KILMEADE: Right, and Bill, it's been pointed out to me that even though you have military experts, the president ultimately makes the decision to go to war. Even if you have medical experts, it doesn't mean the medical division decides when we open up or not or how we open up or not. The economists and the medical and the scientists need a seat at the table. Do you agree?

BENNETT: Yes. They have input, that's what they have.

New York Times trying to blast the president for not acting in January and putting everybody on notice. At the end of February, Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, who is the reigning king of scientists here, said there's no reason for anybody to change their normal way of doing business -- at the end of February. So you know, he is the responsible party.

His instincts, by the way, the president's, have been more correct than anybody else's. The models have been disastrous, but they have frightened the children and chased the public under their beds, so this is a shame. Let's open up the country. Let's do it smart. Keep it home, people who have or are at risk, who are old, who have comorbidities, who have underlying conditions, people test positive, keep it home, but let's get the country moving. There's been real damage caused by this that's far beyond, frankly, what people can imagine, because we haven't done the count, the full count, of both sides of the ledger.

KILMEADE: You're right, Bill. I just don't know if we wait much longer what is going to be left of our country.