Fox News host Raymond Arroyo wildly claimed on Tuesday night that car accident deaths are being counted as COVID-19 casualties if the victim tested positive for coronavirus, citing a “couple of coroners” that he purportedly talked to as proof.
Filling in for Laura Ingraham on her Fox News primetime show, Arroyo discussed the recent allegations made by two Republican Minnesota state lawmakers that the state’s coronavirus deaths could be inflated by as much as 40 percent. The unfounded claims come two weeks after a Minnesota legislator died of COVID-19 and on the same day a 41-year-old U.S. congressman-elect succumbed to the disease.
Turning to Dr. William Grace—an oncologist whose credentials Ingraham misrepresented earlier this year—Arroyo cited the lawmakers’ assertions before asking Grace how the state could overcount the death toll by 40 percent.
“You have a lot of patients with a lot of other diseases,” Grace insisted. “You might have one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel and COVID is the last thing that knocks them into the grave.”
“There are a lot of people who try to make COVID the actual cause of death,” he continued. “In many cases, you see physicians object to the cause of death as being Covid, but hospitals administrators forcing them to make it COVID for whatever reason. Whether it’s economic, political, I don’t know. But you’ve seen this on the internet. I’ve seen it.”
With his guest having just said he’d “seen this on the internet,” Arroyo offered up his own explanation.
“I’ve had a couple of coroners tell me when they have to cite the cause of death, if somebody is smashed in a car accident and the corpse tested positive for COVID, they write COVID as the secondary cause of death and that counts in the statistics,” he exclaimed.
“Is that true?” Arroyo asked Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel. “Are you seeing more of that across the country?”
Siegel, who once said the “worst-case scenario” for coronavirus was “the flu,” said he thinks “it’s blurred because sometimes COVID is what put you over the top” before claiming the large focus on the virus means hospitals could be “inflating the results.”
Since the pandemic began, Fox News stars and Republicans have repeatedly argued that the actual death toll from coronavirus was exaggerated, claiming that hospitals were wrongly classifying deaths from other causes as COVID-related. President Donald Trump has gone so far as to baselessly accuse doctors of purposely inflating deaths in order to make a profit.
Medical and public health experts have repeatedly challenged these claims, noting that it is actually far more likely that the number of COVID-19 deaths has been undercounted and pointing to the number of excess mortalities in the country this year.
Furthermore, fact-checkers have looked into the claims of coronavirus deaths being inflated by car accidents and have found them without merit, noting that there is a two-level system to ensure death counts are accurate.