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A longtime critic of coronavirus lockdowns has been added as an adviser to President Donald Trump as the administration fights with Democrats and Left-leaning teacher’s unions to reopen schools as the pandemic wanes.
The role of Dr. Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at the Stanford University Hoover Institution who said in late April that overestimation of COVID-19 deaths was leading to panic among the public, is not yet clear, the Washington Examiner reported.
But given his frequent critiques of policies advocating for the shuttering of the economy to contain the spread of the virus, a position at odds with other members of the president’s coronavirus task force, it’s likely that Atlas will play a role in shaping administration COVID policies as Trump continues to push for wider reopening of schools and the economy.
In April, Atlas wrote in The Hill that then-available data indicated isolation policies and the economic shutdowns that had taken place all over the country were needless.
“The tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be entering the containment phase. Tens of thousands of Americans have died, and Americans are now desperate for sensible policymakers who have the courage to ignore the panic and rely on facts,” he wrote.
If you were authoring The Simulation, and you wanted to introduce a brilliant new character to lift humanity and carry It on their shoulders, what kind of smart-strong-awesome name would you give such a character?
Answer: Dr. Scott Atlas
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) August 11, 2020
“Leaders must examine accumulated data to see what has actually happened, rather than keep emphasizing hypothetical projections; combine that empirical evidence with fundamental principles of biology established for decades; and then thoughtfully restore the country to function,” he noted further, recommending a fuller reopening to establish “natural herd immunity.”
“In the absence of immunization, society needs circulation of the virus, assuming high-risk people can be isolated,” he wrote. “It is very possible that whole-population isolation prevented natural herd immunity from developing.”
That would help explain why there were spikes in coronavirus cases after states began reopening earlier this summer, some health experts have observed.
Atlas is also supportive of reopening schools.
“If steps need to be taken to protect children from COVID-19, then those same steps are required each and every year that the influenza season arrives,” he wrote last month, the Washington Examiner noted.
“A disease … that is frequently transmitted from children to the same high-risk teachers and family members who then die, to the tune of 35,000 to 90,000 Americans every flu season.”
There is little data to suggest that kids are super-spreaders of the virus, as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos noted last month. Also, former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson tweeted out studies and statements from Dutch and Australian health officials, where schools have reopened, noting that children are not spreading the virus to teachers and other adults.
Yet another report on kids and #Covid, this one from the Dutch public health institute, finds children are at ~0 risk from #SARSCoV2 and at miniscule risk of spreading it. Schools are now fully open in the Netherlands. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. REOPEN US SCHOOLS. https://t.co/035HXmOHNt pic.twitter.com/mtsdzV9PFV
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) June 29, 2020
Here’s an official Australian government statement from Sunday: pic.twitter.com/2I7uZjN53i
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) May 7, 2020
Also last month, Atlas decried the “ludicrous” “hysteria” among Democrats in opposing the reopening of schools.
“Obviously, we know this by now, it’s been confirmed all over the world, children rarely transmit the disease to adults,” said Atlas in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) criticism of DeVos. “But those are people that obviously either don’t know that data or have a refractory to learning themselves because the facts say otherwise.”
Earlier this month, Atlas, the former head of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, also told Fox News that stopping the virus “is not the appropriate goal.”
“I think there is a huge disconnect here in what the goal of public policy is here,” Atlas said during a discussion about keeping college students safe.
“The goal of stopping COVID-19 cases is not the appropriate goal. The goal is simply twofold, to protect the people who are going to have a serious problem or die, that’s the high-risk population, and to stop hospital overcrowding,” he noted.
“There should never be and there is no goal to stop college students from getting an infection they have no problem with.
“They can do things if they are still afraid from a distance but you don’t lock down healthy people,” he added. “It’s just irrational, really.”
On Monday, the president said that Atlas “has many great ideas, and he thinks what we’ve done is really good, and that will take it to a new level.”
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