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Mehmet Oz (L), Anthony Fauci (C) and Phil McGraw (R). Photo: Roy Rochlin/Chip Somodevilla/Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Celebrities, like Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, have endorsed plans for states to slowly reopen their economies, while the country's lead immunology expert, Anthony Fauci, has offered words of caution.

The big picture: As several famous doctors have gone on-air with major news networks, including Fox News, "[t]he conflicting views ... highlight how expert advice on the coronavirus has been undermined by celebrity doctors with little to no infectious disease experience," the Washington Post writes.

Why it matters: Some of the guidance from celebrity doctors comes at a time when people across the U.S. are protesting shelter-at-home orders and mandates to close non-essential business, claiming those directives infringe on their freedoms.

  • President Trump released new federal guidelines Thursday, outlining a three-phase approach to reopen the country in communities with mild cases of COVID-19. The recommendations put the responsibility on state and local leaders to determine how and when to return to normalcy.

What they're saying:

Both Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Phil McGraw, better known as Dr. Phil, joined Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Thursday.

  • Fauci told Ingraham: “...I have to tell you, the degree of efficiency of transmissibility of this is really unprecedented in anything that I’ve seen. It’s an extraordinarily efficient virus in transmitting from one person to another. Those kind of viruses don’t just disappear.”
  • McGraw, who has a PhD in clinical psychology but is not licensed to practice medicine, followed Fauci's interview, saying, “We have people dying, 45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools, but we don’t shut the country down for that." He added that if people don't return to work and school, they may face anxiety, depression and other challenges.
  • Reality check per Axios Caitlin Owens: Leading coronavirus modeling has recently lowered its projection for the number of American deaths, a sign that social distancing is working.

Mehmet Oz, a surgeon called "Dr. Oz," on TV, spoke with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday.

  • Oz said schools "are a very appetizing opportunity," and should consider reopening soon. He also noted that resuming schools "may only cost us 2 to 3% in terms of mortality."
  • Reality check: Oz's statements went viral, and he quickly clarified that he "misspoke." He said his goal was to ask "how do we get our children safely back to school."
  • Yes, but: Oz has advocated for uniform testing, while he also "hyped the potential of hydroxychloroquine" as a treatment which is still not proven effective, The Washington Post notes.

Drew Pinsky, known as "Dr. Drew," has claimed the coronavirus is "way less serious than influenza" as the pandemic emerged, and claimed it was a "press-induced pandemic."

  • Reality check: Pinsky has since apologized and said: "My early comments about equating coronavirus with influenza were wrong. They were incorrect. It was part of a chorus that was saying that and we were wrong. And I want to apologize for that. I wish I got it right, but I got it wrong."

Go deeper: Leading coronavirus modeling shows that social distancing is working

Go deeper

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.