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Coronavirus Disaster Highlights Role Of TV Doctors

Gettyimages | Bryan Bedder
By Emily Reily

TV Doctors On Call Now More Than Ever

Giphy | Rachael Ray Show

"TV" doctors like Drew Pinsky, Sanjay Gupta and Mehmet Oz are all pretty booked up these days, as viewers seek to find out all they can about COVID-19 and get every update as soon as possible.

According to Variety, news networks are leaning on these "TV doctors" more than ever because the demand to watch them has been so strong.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who is an OB-Gyn in New Jersey, has had her hands full as ABC News' chief medical correspondent as coronavirus has exploded in the United States.

Ashton's everywhere, according to Variety:

"Most days, Ashton wakes up with viewers on 'Good Morning America' and addresses them before they go to sleep on “Nightline,” with back-to-back appearances in between on 'World News Tonight' the digital livestream 'ABC News Now,' affiliate hits, podcast recordings, radio interviews and the network’s new daytime series, 'Pandemic: What You Need to Know,' anchored by Amy Robach."

Getting the Facts Out

Gettyimages | Jasmin Merdan

According to Ashton, the need for her wall-to-wall coverage on ABC is something she's never experienced before.

“What has been dramatic with this story is my coverage on other ABC shows. The requests from other television shows have been massive and unprecedented."

Viewership has notably increased as the coronavirus crisis mounts. Variety notes that the three major broadcast networks: ABC, NBC and CBS, have enjoyed skyrocketing ratings, particularly for their nightly news shows. David Muir (ABC), Norah O'Donnell (CBS) and Lester Holt (NBC) have all shattered previous records for viewership.

Giphy | South Park

Oz says everyone's working together to get the knowledge out to people, even if it means going to a different network:

“I’m touched deeply by how much coronavirus has forced people to wake up to the realities of life and break down the barriers. I was talking to a very senior leader at Fox about doing a show that would involve me participating in a different network, that would involve me going on a different platform, that I normally wouldn’t do, and he said, ‘We are all in this together. You go do what you need to do.’ "

Every other executive and producer I’ve spoken to has said the same thing."

We're In Deep

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“It’s a little bit like internship in medicine, which was actually the busiest time in my life,” says Dr. Oz, and compared this demand to other disastrous times in recent American history. Coronavirus seems to obliterate those other horrible times in our lives.

Oz covered parts of the 2015 New Orleans hurricane for Oprah Winfrey's show, when he was a contributor there.

“Swine flu was not close to this — even Katrina was not close to this,” he says.

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