Rush Limbaugh continued Wednesday to equate the novel coronavirus with the common cold as health officials in the U.S. and abroad voiced grave concerns about its rising death toll.
The host of the “Rush Limbaugh Show” and recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient discussed the ongoing coronavirus outbreak during the latest broadcast of his syndicated radio program, criticizing efforts to contain the pandemic while once again accusing other members of the media of causing Americans to overreact.
Mr. Limbaugh, 69, also repeated his recent comment that the virus is the same as the common cold in spite of coming under fire last month upon reasoning as much.
“All of this panic is just not warranted,” Mr. Limbaugh said Wednesday. “I’ve told you that this virus is the common cold. When I said that, it was based on the number of cases. It’s also based on the kind of virus this is. Why do you think this is ‘COVID-19’? This is the 19th coronavirus. They’re not uncommon.”
But while COVID-19 is indeed not the first coronavirus identified by health officials, the number in the name relates to “the year in which it appeared,” Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, said last month. Formerly known as 2019-nCoV, the disease was brought to the organization’s attention on Dec. 31, 2019.
Elsewhere during his latest broadcast, Mr. Limbaugh claimed concerns over the lethality of COVID-19 are being blown out of proportion, blaming the press and Democratic politicians.
“If you read just two or three media headlines a day — pick one, pick two, pick three at random — you’re going to think that if you leave your home you’ve got a good chance of dying — and you don’t,” Mr. Limbaugh added. “But I’m telling you, just — to me, this is just a gigantic series of question marks and red flags, all this stuff that is — it’s just the timing of it, the objective — the gleeful, gleeful attitudes in the media about this, the gleeful attitudes that Democrat leaders have about this.”
His latest comments came as domestic and international health officials cautioned Wednesday about the coronavirus outbreak claiming more lives, however. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that COVID-19 is at least 10 times “more lethal” than the seasonal flu; and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, said during a briefing in Geneva that the growing number of COVID-19-related deaths is expected to “climb even higher,” adding the disease is officially being characterized as a pandemic.
Mr. Limbaugh has been leery of COVID-19 in the weeks since hundreds of cases of the disease started being confirmed in the U.S., claiming during a broadcast last month that it is the same as the common cold and being weaponized by Democrats and the media to “bring down” President Trump.
Other conservative commentators have since criticized his comments, with right-wing radio host Mark Levin accusing Mr. Limbaugh afterward of “misinforming his listeners.”
“THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SCIENCE ILLITERATES ARE GIVEN BIG MICROPOHONES! DESTROYS ALL CREDIBILITY OF CONSERVATIVE MEDIA,” Mr. Savage responded on Twitter in capital letters.
More recently, Fox News host Tucker Carlson seemed to offer a subtle rebuke Monday evening of President Trump, who compared COVID-19 hours earlier to the common flu.
“People you trust, people you probably voted for, have spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem,” said Mr. Carlson. “It will affect your life. And by the way, it’s definitely not just the flu.”
More than 118,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported in 113 countries as of Wednesday, killing over 3,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed the number of domestic cases of COVID-19 at 938 and counting, including 29 deaths.