A call by two local doctors last week to reopen the economy and lift social distancing orders caught fire on social media over the weekend, landing them an appearance on Fox News tonight while drawing strong criticism from medical and health professionals.
Doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, both licensed California physicians and co-owners of Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, were praised in a tweet by Elon Musk on Sunday for making "good points" and will appear on "The Ingraham Angle" with Laura Ingraham on Fox News tonight.
The doctors have also been roundly criticized on Twitter and elsewhere by some health and medical professionals who say their calculations and analysis are faulty.
Carl T. Bergstrom, a biology professor at the University of Washington, noted on Twitter that the doctors' calculations of COVID-19 having a low death rate were not statistically sound and likened it to "estimating the average height of Americans from the players on an NBA court."
In a news conference held by Erickson and Massihi last week, the doctors cited their own testing data as well as state and national figures to argue the coronavirus has a low death rate, similar to flu.
They arrived at that conclusion by taking the infection rate (the number of cases positive out of the total number of tests done) and extrapolating it to the general population. Statewide, Erickson said, 12 percent of people tested for COVID-19 are positive. Assuming this is the rate of infection among the general population, he estimated as many as 5 million Californians have had the virus (5 million is 12 percent of the state's population of 40 million). He then used the number of reported deaths in California — around 1,200 last week — to calculate that 1,200 deaths out of 5 million people who have likely had the virus works out to a .03 percent death rate, which is similar to the death rate for flu.
"Millions of cases, small amount of death," Erickson said repeatedly in the news conference.
However, that analysis has been called incorrect because of sampling bias, according to UC Irvine associate public health professor Andrew Noymer. Because most people tested for COVID019 were likely to have symptoms, the infection rate among those tested is going to be much higher than among the general population.
The doctors are also scheduled to appear "Greg Kelly Reports" on NewsmaxTV, according to a post on Accelerated Urgent Care's Facebook page.