Scott Atlas is not helping. The neuroradiologist from Stanford brought in to balance out the White House's Covid-19 task force with his Fox-News-approved Covid happytalk has unfailingly steered the president toward the worse, more dangerous option. Take for instance Trump's insistence during the town hall with Savannah Guthrie that "85 percent of the people wearing masks catch it."

That little nugget of misinformation appears to come from Dr. Atlas, who either ignorantly or willfully misconstrued a CDC study affirming the efficacy of masks in preventing a sick person from infecting those around him — not protecting the masked person from getting infected if some filthy asshole insists on his God-given right to wander around without a mask spewing droplets on everyone else.

"CDC guidance on masks has clearly stated that wearing a mask is intended to protect other people in case the mask wearer is infected. At no time has CDC guidance suggested that masks were intended to protect the wearers," the agency said in a statement to Yahoo News. "Growing evidence increasingly shows that wearing masks in community settings reduces transmission among individuals in that community."

Atlas's tweet on the ineffectiveness of masks — "Masks work? No" — was removed by Twitter this weekend, and immediately contradicted by his fellow task force member Admiral Brett Giroir.

As The Washington Post reports, task force members are generally horrified by Atlas's presence in their midst and his outsize influence on the president. With the connivance of Jared Kushner and Hope Hicks, who appreciate having someone around to tell the old man his plan to do fuck all to stop the spread of a deadly virus is BRILLIANT, SIR!, Atlas has spewed nonsense and pushed dangerous public health policies on the country.


Atlas blocked using $9 billion in allocated Covid funds to expand testing, apparently heeding Trump's theory that it would be better to slow the testing down because the more tests you perform, the more cases you have. Logic!

He's also backed herd immunity, errrr, herd immunity PLUS. That's where Mexico pays for a wall around nursing homes, and then we all go back to licking each other's faces in bars to stimulate the economy. More or less.

CDC Director Robert Redfield cited recent studies that show only nine percent of Americans currently carry antibodies for Covid-19. But Atlas, who is, again, not an infectious disease specialist or an epidemiologist, has embraced a bizarre theory that T-cell immunity from regular exposure to the common cold confers some protection from coronavirus. No other credible scientist treats this as a rational, baseline assumption. And yet, combined with a magical guess about the number of people exposed, Atlas is confident in predicting that we're all better now, time to go back to normal.

At a task force meeting late last month, Atlas stated that there was herd immunity in much of the country because of a combination of high infection rates in cities such as New York and Miami and T-cell immunity, according to two senior administration officials. He said that only 40 to 50 percent of people need to be infected to reach the threshold. And he argued that because of this immunity, all restrictions should be lifted, schools should be opened and only the most vulnerable populations, such as nursing home residents, should be sheltered.

This resulted in a fierce debate with [Dr. Deborah] Birx and [Dr. Anthony] Fauci, who demanded Atlas show them the data that backed up his assertions, one of the officials said.

People who don't read ultrasounds for a living agree that the real threshold for herd immunity is 60 to 70 percent exposure. But when asked to mediate between actual science facts and shit Dr. Sweettalk just barfed out of his gob, Vice President Mike Pence demurred.

In one recent encounter, Pence did not take sides between Atlas and Birx, but rather told them to bring data bolstering their perspectives to the task force and to work out their disagreements themselves, according to two senior administration officials.

LOL, sorry kids. You're on your own.

Atlas responded to the Post's queries by insisting that putting forward contrarian ideas, no matter how idiotic or unscientific, has a value in and of itself. "Any policy discussion where data isn't being challenged isn't a policy discussion," he said. Then he accused the paper of writing "another story filled with overt lies and distortions to undermine the President and the expert advice he is being given."

Meanwhile, as the Covid numbers look bleaker by the day, the White House seems to have settled on a strategy of doing exactly nothing and hoping a vaccine shows up sooner rather than later.

"They've given up on everything else," an official involved in the pandemic response told the Post. "It's too hard of a slog."

Well, not everything else. The president is currently out there shitting all over Dr. Anthony Fauci, the only person in the Trump administration whom Americans trust on the subject of public health.

"People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong," Trump said to reporters on a call this afternoon. "He's been here for 500 years. [...] Every time he goes on television, there's always a bomb, but there's a bigger bomb if you fire him. This guy's a disaster."

TWO MORE WEEKS until we give this filthy lunatic his walking papers. Mask up!

[Yahoo / WaPo]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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