President Donald Trump on Wednesday again acknowledged Dr. Scott Atlas at a coronavirus event, turning over the floor to his new advisor who has argued against lockdowns and school closings and wants to hasten ‘herd’ immunity.
Trump turned to Dr. Atlas, who he introduced to the media earlier this week, at an event on reopening schools, even as the nation grapples with infections among young people even on campuses starting to reopen.
‘It’s a great honor to be asked to help out in any way I can,’ said Atlas, a trained neuro-radiologist at the Hoover Institution known for his appearances on Fox News.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday again acknowledged Dr. Scott Atlas, his coronavirus advisor. Atlas repeated his call to reopen schools, adding: ‘We know that the risk of the disease is extremely low for children – even less than that of seasonable flu’
‘We know that the risk of the disease is extremely low for children – even less than that of seasonable flu,’ Atlas told an audience at an event that had more than 25 American flags.
‘We know that the harms of locking out the children from school are enormous,’ he continued. ‘And we also know as we all would agree that education america’s children is right at the top of the list for our nation’s priorities.’
Atlas, who joined Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, thanked the president and others at the event for ‘acknowledging these truths and to get kids back to school safely.’
‘We’ve been working with him very closely, all of the task force, all of the White House,’ Trump said of Dr. Scott Atlas, whose new title is advisor to the president
Trump acknowledged Dr. Scott Atlas at the White House Wednesday
Trump in turn praised Atlas and indicated he would take part in a press conference later Wednesday – a role previously held by infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.
‘We’ll have more from Scott in a little while. We’re going to meet,’ Trump said, referencing an upcoming task force meeting. ‘We’ve been working with him very closely, all of the task force, all of the White House,’ Trump added.
Then Trump made an odd statement coming from the nation that leads the world in reported coronavirus infections.
‘You see countries, other countries are now blowing up in terms of the disease, you call it what you want, so many different names for the disease,’ Trump said. ‘Whether it’s China virus and some I won’t get into I just get myself in trouble when I do,’ Trump said, in a possible reference to his prior use of the term ‘Kung-flu.’
Atlas in his speakers’ bureau bio says he has advised presidential candidates, and has been identified as an advisor to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 campaign.
CNN reported that Atlas’ title is advisor to the president.
Atlas spoke to Fox News in a mid-July appearance amid national debate over keeping schools closed.
Dr. Atlas has pointed out the costs of lockdowns and noted that most people who get COVID-19 are not seriously harmed. ‘It is so mild that half of infected people are asymptomatic, shown in early data from the Diamond Princess ship, and then in Iceland and Italy,’ Atlas wrote.
‘We are the only country in the world, this is a level of hysteria like this is something I feel like I’m living in a Kafka novel here. I mean, I get thousands of e-mails a week from all over the world, from professors, teachers, mothers in the United States and elsewhere, they are stunned that we are willing to just simply destroy our children out of some bizarre notion that is completely contrary to the science,’ he said.
In May, Atlas disagreed with a model projecting 134,000 deaths by August 4, based on his reading of the fatality rate.
The U.S. exceeded that total, and as of August 10 was over 160,000.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has frequently quoted Atlas, as she did in July from the White House podium when she said: ‘Children under 18 have virtually zero risk of death from COVID, virtually zero risk of serious illness.’
In an April op-ed in The Hill, Atlas warned against ‘mass isolation’ measures that nations were taking seeking to head-off the spread of the virus.
The U.S. did impose lockdowns, but in a disjointed way that Fauci and others say didn’t do enough to prevent a spike in cases. The U.S. has more than 5 million, about a quarter of all global infections.
‘It is so mild that half of infected people are asymptomatic, shown in early data from the Diamond Princess ship, and then in Iceland and Italy,’ Atlas wrote.
‘That has been falsely portrayed as a problem requiring mass isolation. In fact, infected people without severe illness are the immediately available vehicle for establishing widespread immunity. By transmitting the virus to others in the low-risk group who then generate antibodies, they block the network of pathways toward the most vulnerable people, ultimately ending the threat,’ Atlast continued. ‘Extending whole-population isolation would directly prevent that widespread immunity from developing.’
Atlas offered up-beat information in a July interview even as cases rose.
‘If cases go up, that’s okay, the key thing is to prevent a big outbreak of deaths and serious complications and the way we do that is by protecting the high risk group,’ Atlas said. ‘Actually, we have been protecting the high risk group much better now, because we see that there’s a huge increase in cases but there’s actually a decrease in the rate of hospitalizations and a continuing decrease in the rate of deaths.’
During the event, Trump dismissed the hybrid approach many schools had been planning for, although some scrapped the idea as coronavirus cases went on the rise. It allows students to attend in-person classes once or twice each week while still maintaining social distancing.
Trump said it sounded ‘ridiculous’ and ‘very strange.’