WH Believes That Efforts To Mitigate COVID’s Spread May Not Be Worth The Trouble
Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who caught the eye of President Trump due to his Fox News commentary on the pandemic, has steered the White House's coronavirus response toward viewing mitigation measures as not worth the trouble.
- Atlas has effectively sidelined public health experts on the task force and has argued that mask wearing and social distancing are meaningless, despite evidence to the contrary, The Washington Post reports.
On Saturday, Atlas wrote on Twitter that masks do not work, prompting the social media site to remove the tweet for violating its safety rules for spreading misinformation. Several medical and public health experts flagged the tweet as dangerous misinformation coming from a primary adviser to the president.
“Masks work? NO,” Atlas wrote in the tweet, followed by other misrepresentations about the science behind masks. He linked to an article from the American Institute for Economic Research — a libertarian think tank behind the Barrington effort — that argued against masks and dismissed the threat of the virus as overblown.
The result has been a U.S. response increasingly plagued by distrust, infighting and lethargy, just as experts predict coronavirus cases could surge this winter and deaths could reach 400,000 by year’s end.
- Atlas, who is not an infectious disease expert, also has advocated for allowing the virus to spread in an attempt to reach herd immunity and has found favor with Trump by claiming the pandemic is nearly over.
- Infectious disease experts estimate that 60 to 70 percent of the population would need to be infected to reach herd immunity — resulting in hundreds of thousands of excess deaths.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that only about 9 percent of the U.S. population has antibodies against the virus.
- Per The Post, Atlas also has quashed Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s proposals to increase the nation’s testing capacity in anticipation of a rise in COVID cases this winter.
[Atlas] has argued that young and healthy people do not need to get tested and that testing resources should be allocated to nursing homes and other vulnerable places, such as prisons and meatpacking plants.
- Regardless of the fringe nature of Atlas’ theories and advice, Trump has used the doctor to support his own rejection of advice from other medical experts on the task force whose counsel is supported by evidence.
- Asked about the effectiveness of masks at last week’s town hall, Trump equivocated before invoking Atlas to support his assertion that masks may not work.
“Scott Adkins," Trump said, mispronouncing the doctor’s name. "If you look at Scott, Dr. Scott, he’s from — great guy — from Stanford, he will tell you."
- Told that Atlas is not an infectious disease expert, Trump said: “Oh, I don’t know. Look, he’s an expert. He’s one of the experts of the world.”