Dr. Mehmet Oz warned that the health of America's doctors and nurses and the integrity of the nation's hospitals must be safeguarded to ensure that the country can effectively combat the coronavirus outbreak.
"The weak link fighting a pandemic is when the hospitals get sick," said Oz, host of the "The Dr. Oz Show” and an attending physician at New York Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center.
"When the nurses and doctors are ill, when everyone who goes to the hospital feels ill, no longer is it 'hospital.' It becomes 'hospice.' You go there to die. And that's a catastrophe," he said on Fox Nation's new special "Five Flus."
In "Five Flus," Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner and some of the world's leading medical doctors and infectious disease experts looked back at the worst flu outbreaks: the Spanish flu (1918), the Asian flu (1957), the Hong Kong flu (1967-68) and the Swine flu (1976) to discern what lessons can be learned to save lives today.
Oz observed that during the Spanish flu of 1918, considered to be one of the world's worst natural disasters, hospitals were overwhelmed.
"That ended up happening in 1918 more than we wanted to acknowledge," he said, "because there wasn't the ability to take care of large numbers of sick people."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that he is deploying the New York National Guard to make preparations to build emergency hospital spaces, and he called on President Donald Trump to use the the Army Corps of Engineers for the same purpose.
In the Fox Nation special, Fox News medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier reiterated Oz's concerns but pointed out that modern American society does not face the same challenge as it did in 1918.
"To compare [the coronavirus outbreak] to what we saw with the Spanish flu, where you had 500 million people infected with over 50 million, rough estimate, deaths, we have to remember that we live in a very different time," she said.
"Penicillin wasn't even developed until 1928. Not to mention we now have sanitation and actual sewage systems and people know to wash their hands. And when they're sick, they know that they're contagious. It's just that we live in a completely different era of knowledge," Saphier concluded.
Oz echoed that sentiment, urging Americans to do what they can to be informed.
"The most powerful tool you have is information," he said. "It shines a light in dark areas and what we fear most is what we don't understand. So I'm optimistic that with more information people can move past the panic stage, they'll get normalized to what they're experiencing."
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