The comments came during a conversation with Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday as the number of US deaths from the disease neared 15,000.
The US had recorded its highest daily death toll the day before, as 1,858 Americans fell victim to the virus in a 24 hour period.
“I don’t want to sound callous about that,” said Mr O’Reilly. “The [US death] projections that you just mentioned are down to 60,000, I don’t think it will be that high—13,000 dead now in the USA.”
The pair had been discussing social distancing before Mr O’Reilly made the comment about those who had died.
“Many people who are dying, both here and around the world, were on their last legs anyway,” said Mr O’Reilly.
Sean Hannity cautioned, “You’re going to get hammered for that,” to which Mr O’Reilly replied that he did not care.
Mr Hannity added: “You mean people that have underlying conditions and that have compromised immune systems.”
In the US at least 759 people under the age of 50 have lost their lives since the pandemic began.
According to data analysis by The Washington Post, there had been 235 deaths among Americans in their 20s and 30s, suggesting that the disease did not spare young Americans from experiencing complications.
Mr O’Reilly later used Twitter to call criticism of his comments “more far left propaganda”.
“The virus death rate for folks WITHOUT pre-existing conditions is below one percent. With health problems much, much higher.”, said the ex-Fox News host. “I pointed that out and the nuts objected, also claiming the health systems in Italy and Spain are better than USA. Bull.”
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans with underlying health conditions appear to be at higher risk of developing more severe cases of the coronavirus than those in other countries.
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