Trump’s anti-lockdown coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, says the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis will not change how the White House tackles the pandemic

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Trump’s anti-lockdown coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, says the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis will not change how the White House tackles the pandemic

Scott Atlas: Trump COVID-19 illness won’t change WH pandemic strategy – Business Insider

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2020-10-06T10:33:58Z

Evan Vucci/AP
  • Dr. Scott Atlas, a vocal lockdown skeptic, is the newest member of the White House coronavirus task force. He has been increasingly featured in official briefings but criticized by health experts in recent weeks.
  • Business Insider spoke with Atlas on Monday afternoon, hours before President Donald Trump returned to the White House following a three-day hospitalization.
  • Atlas said the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis would not change the White House’s strategy on the pandemic, which has emphasized reopening the economy.
  • “He is not afraid, he’s not going to hide in the basement, endorse another lockdown … frozen in fear behind a mask,” Atlas said of the president.
  • Throughout the pandemic the White House has downplayed the coronavirus, pressured states to reopen, and eschewed health experts’ calls for transparency.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump’s newest coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, says the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis will not change the White House’s strategy on pandemic control.

Speaking with Business Insider hours before the president returned to the White House on Monday, after a three-day hospitalization at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Atlas said the president would not lead from a place of fear.

“He is not afraid, he’s not going to hide in the basement, endorse another lockdown … frozen in fear behind a mask,” Atlas said.

His remarks align with the way Trump is trying to present his illness. On Monday, the president tweeted “Don’t be afraid of Covid” and removed his mask upon arrival to the White House, even though he is said to remain contagious.

Atlas went on to say that the president’s testing positive for the virus showed that “even in the safest environment, some people will get the virus,” and that the virus was “not totally eliminated by a lockdown.”

“It really underscores what he’s said all along — we need to protect the high-risk people,” Atlas said. “We need to open society. People need to function. Americans want to work.”

He added: “This is a common-sense policy that’s based on the science, not fear.”

Throughout the pandemic Trump and the White House have downplayed the coronavirus, pressured states to reopen their businesses, and eschewed health experts’ calls for transparency. The US has recorded the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world.

Business Insider has contacted the White House for comment on Atlas’ remarks.

Atlas started working at the White House in August after becoming a fixture on Fox News for months, where he advocated the full reopening of schools and spoke against lockdowns.

His joining the coronavirus task force provoked drama and concern from top health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the US, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield.

Redfield was overheard by an NBC News reporter recently saying that “everything” Atlas says “is false,” while Fauci told CNN last week that he’s worried Atlas was feeding the president misleading information on the pandemic.

There have also been questions about Atlas’ qualifications to advise the president, since he is neither an epidemiologist nor a public-health official. Atlas specializes in neuroradiology but has transitioned to a career in health policy. He’s a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a right-wing think tank, and has advised on health policy for Republicans like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.

“Somehow the charge that I am not an epidemiologist or I’m not a virologist, or I’m not a public-health official, has been repeated, and it’s ridiculous,” Atlas told Business Insider on Monday.

“I’m not here to be an epidemiologist. I’m here because I can translate complicated medical science … in a way that is plain English and understandable by the public and by the people in the White House.”

He added: “There is no monopoly on knowledge among government-employed public-health officials. My work and understanding of the pandemic is based on near-daily conversations with many of the world’s leading epidemiologists and medical scientists who actually do the research on the pandemic, not just read about the research.”

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Trump’s anti-lockdown coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, says the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis will not change how the White House tackles the pandemic

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