Former Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly said Wednesday that many of those who died from the Chinese coronavirus “were on their last legs anyways.”
O’Reilly, who departed Fox News in 2017 following persistent sexual harassment allegations, made the remark as a guest on Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show.
A partial transcript is as follows:
SEAN HANNITY: I want life back to normal, can you fix that in a simple way?
BILL O’REILLY: Oh man, I wish I could, you know?
SEAN HANNITY: Me too.
BILL O’REILLY: But we’re making little steps. Bernie Sanders, you know, he’s gone, that’s really good for everybody. The projections that you just mentioned are down to 60,000, I don’t think it will be that high. 13,000 dead now in the [United States]. Many people who are dying, both here and around the world, were on their last legs anyway, and I don’t want to sound callous about that.
SEAN HANNITY: You’re going to get hammered for that.
BILL O’REILLY: Well, I don’t care. A simple man tells the truth.
While the virus is typically more dangerous for older people or patients with other health conditions, there have been several cases where the virus took the life of young people. These individuals include men in their 30s, some of whom were otherwise healthy; teenagers in several countries; and even newborn babies.
O’Reilly’s comments come as the federal government is easing its social distancing guidelines in an effort to get people back up and working.
In a first, small step toward reopening the country, the Trump administration issued new guidelines to make it easier for essential workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to get back to work if they do not have symptoms of the coronavirus.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Wednesday at the White House that essential employees, such as health care and food supply workers, who have been within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of a confirmed or suspected case of the virus can return to work under certain circumstances if they are not experiencing symptoms
The new guidelines are being issued as the nation mourns about 15,000 deaths from the virus and grapples with a devastated economy and medical crises from coast to coast. Health experts continue to caution Americans to practice social distancing and to avoid returning to their normal activities. At the same time, though, they are planning for a time when the most serious threat from COVID-19 will be in the country’s rear-view mirror.
The AP contributed to this report.