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Tag: scott atlas

Trump Officials Boasted Of Distorting CDC Reports On Pandemic Spread

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

It's not certain that Donald Trump did everything wrong when it comes to handling COVID-19, but he certainly tried. Not only did Trump promote false cures and downplay effective strategies, he deliberately avoided creating a national testing plan because he thought this would lead to a greater number of deaths in Democratically controlled states. That action alone meets the U.N. definition for genocide, and researchers have set the number of unnecessary deaths in the U.S. at 400,000.

But Trump didn't do it alone. At every step, he had the assistance of Republicans inside and outside the White House who worked with Trump to downplay the threat, misdirect public concerns, and mock serious efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19. That included not just sidelining serious officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci and inserting unqualified Trump supporters like Scott Atlas, but forcing officials within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies to either suppress information or alter statements.

A year later the House select subcommittee on the pandemic and its handling is finally getting a look at some of those internal calculations and decisions. The Washington Post has acquired copies of documents before that committee showing Trump officials pressured agencies and scientists to change their reporting to the public. Then those officials celebrated the fact that the nation had been duped.

In particular, the emails between former Health and Human Services (HHS) Public Affairs Chief Michael Caputo and former Science Adviser Paul Alexander show these officials working to force the CDC to make changes in reports on how COVID-19 spread. Then they celebrated their victory with a "yippee." Alexander also managed to make changes in the "sacrosanct" Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) to tone down the apparent damage done by COVID-19.

Even then, the changes to some reports—in particular one about how the disease was spread among young people—weren't enough to make Alexander and Caputo happy. So they worked with Atlas to create op-eds to "preempt the story" and promote the idea that schools could be opened safely. That included a fishing expedition in which they sought to throw out unfounded numbers about how closing schools was causing more death than it was preventing.

"I know the President wants us to enumerate the economic cost of not reopening," wrote Caputo. "We need solid estimates to be able to say something like: 50,000 more cancer deaths! 40,000 more heart attacks! 25,000 more suicides!"

There does not appear to be any factual basis behind these numbers. Alexander, Caputo, and Atlas understood Trump's goal: He wanted the schools open no matter what, so they created a stream of fear, uncertainty, and doubt for the purposes of justifying that action.

In September of 2020, The New York Times reported on how Caputo and Alexander worked together to bully and silence scientists. For example, when 32-year CDC veteran Dr. Anne Schuchat made an appeal to Americans to wear masks, saying, "We have too much virus across the country," Alexander went on the attack. In an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association, Alexander claimed that Schuchat's real goal was to embarrass Trump. Alexander called her "duplicitous," said that the threat of COVID-19 to children was "zero," and stated of Schuchat, "She has lied." Working together with Caputo, Alexander attempted to stifle Schuchat by threatening to hang all the deaths connected to the H1N1 virus on her decisions.

Select Committee Chair Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC has written to both Alexander and Atlas stating: "Our investigation has shown that Trump Administration officials engaged in a persistent pattern of political interference in the nation's public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, overruling and bullying scientists and making harmful decisions that allowed the virus to spread more rapidly." The committee is now seeking testimony from both Alexander and Atlas.

Caputo—a nonscientist whose work as a media adviser included a stint in which he was hired to improve the image of Vladimir Putin—put himself on medical leave in September. When he did so, he apologized to many members of the HHS staff and admitted that he had not read some of the reports he had pressured people to alter. However, this did not come before Caputo posted a Facebook video in which he claimed there were "hit squads being trained all over this country" for an armed revolt against Trump's second term. He also claimed those hit squads were going to come after him personally. Two weeks later he was diagnosed with throat cancer. It's unclear whether Caputo will be asked to testify.

During the 2016 campaign, Caputo worked for Trump while maintaining offices in both Miami Beach, Florida, and Moscow, Russia. He previously worked for Trump in creating an AstroTurf campaign to make it look as if people wanted Trump to buy the Buffalo Bills.

Clyburn has requested that Alexander and Atlas appear before the committee by May 3. Considering the documentation shows they deliberately sought to alter scientific reports and pressure scientists into providing the answers they wanted, it would not be surprising if getting Alexander and Atlas to show requires a court fight.

What's both amazing and distressing is how all of these men took their obligation to support Trump to be greater than their obligation to protect public health, even when they knew the scope of the threat. Trump said many times that he sought personal loyalty above everything else. He got it.

Finally Birx Tells The Terrible Truth About Trump’s Pandemic Botch

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

If you followed along with Dr. Deborah Birx, former White House coronavirus task force coordinator, you might have experienced some frustration at what the White House was (or more accurately, wasn't) doing in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Some viewers began to wonder why Birx appeared to be tiptoeing around being direct, especially in terms of her sometimes too optimistic-seeming virus projections, and her considerably lenient sidestepping over Trump's continued failures. On the other hand, at least one clip of Birx seemingly reacting to former President Donald Trump's babbling went viral, suggesting that Birx was no happier with the Trump administration than the rest of us.

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Atlas Urging Americans To Visit Elderly Since Holiday 'May Be Their Final One’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump's highly controversial COVID-19 advisor, Dr. Scott Atlas, is urging Americans to visit their elderly family members for Thanksgiving because it may be their final one. Atlas warns against isolation despite the coronavirus pandemic's near-exponential explosion.

"This kind of isolation is one of the unspoken tragedies of the elderly who are now being told don't see your family at Thanksgiving," Atlas, a radiologist, not an epidemiologist, told Fox News Monday evening, as Media Matters reported.

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‘Herd Immunity’ Is Trump Policy — And It Means A Massive Death Toll

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Friday, the COVID Tracking Project reported that the number of positive coronavirus infections in the last day had reached 170,000, the highest record ever and a number that was, just a few months ago, hard to imagine. It's now our daily reality, and it's likely to only get worse.

Other figures are just as frightening. Hospitalizations — one of the clearest signs of the seriousness of the out break —have reached a new high at 69,000, according to the project. Deaths are at a disturbing 1,300, though that rate is almost certain to spike in recent weeks following the more recent spike in cases. And as the newest and largest wave yet engulfs the country, reports have begun to appear of hospitals being overwhelmed with patients, which is almost certainly a precursor to a spike in the case fatality rate.

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Trump’s Insistence On ‘Herd Immunity' Means Mass Murder

Let us examine the Great Barrington Declaration with the respect it deserves, which is very little. The advocates, who include Dr. Scott Atlas, President Donald Trump's preferred pandemic expert, argue that all these shutdowns are causing economic and psychological havoc that's worse than the disease. Better to let the coronavirus infect the young and healthy, thus building immunity in numbers large enough to nearly stop the virus' spread. The elderly and other vulnerable Americans can lock themselves away.

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Trump's New Pandemic Adviser Is Pushing Quack 'Herd Immunity' Policy

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Proponents of the "herd immunity" approach to the coronavirus pandemic have been arguing that if enough Americans are infected with COVID-19 and survive, the disease will be largely neutralized in the United States — an approach that many medical experts vehemently disagree with, including expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci. But according to Washington Post sources, this is an approach that is being aggressively pushed by one of President Donald Trump's top coronavirus advisers: Dr. Scott Atlas, who joined the president's team earlier this month.

Atlas, journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey report in the Post, "is urging the White House to embrace a controversial 'herd immunity' strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus, while taking steps to protect those in nursing homes and other vulnerable populations, according to five people familiar with the discussions."

Atlas' approach, Abutaleb and Dawsey explain, "relies on lifting restrictions so the healthy can build up immunity to the disease rather than limiting social and business interactions to prevent the virus from spreading."

The "herd immunity" approach to the pandemic has been used in Sweden, but it has been rejected and sharply criticized by medical experts in many other European countries — which, in contrast to Sweden, embraced comprehensive social distancing policies. Abutaleb and Dawsey note that "Sweden's approach has gained support among some conservatives who argue that social distancing restrictions are crushing the economy and infringing on people's liberties."

Paul Romer, a professor at New York University, told the Post that the Trump Administration "faces some pretty serious hurdles in making" a herd immunity argument — noting, "One is a lot of people will die, even if you can protect people in nursing homes. Once it's out in the community, we've seen over and over again, it ends up spreading everywhere."

One of the Post's sources, described by Abutaleb and Dawsey as a "senior administration official," told the Post that Atlas considers himself the "anti-Dr. Fauci" and strongly disagrees with the social distancing recommendations of Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx — both of whom are part of Trump's coronavirus task force in the White House. Fauci has warned that easing social distancing restrictions prematurely will have deadly results, and the summer surges of COVID-19 in Florida, Texas, Georgia and other Sun Belt states with Republican governors bear that out.

Eric Topol, the cardiologist who heads the Scripps Research Translational Institute in San Diego, slammed Topol as a source of "misinformation" — telling the Post, "This is really unfortunate to have this fellow Scott Atlas, who was basically recruited to crowd out Tony Fauci and the voice of reason. Not only do we not embrace the science, but we repudiate the science by our president — and that has extended by bringing in another unreliable misinformation vector."

Trump’s New 'Coronavirus Adviser’ Was Almost Always Dead Wrong

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

President Donald Trump announced this week that Dr. Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, will serve as a new "adviser" to the president on COVID-19. Atlas, whose background is in diagnostic radiology, is not an expert in infectious disease but rather a pundit and frequent Fox guest who has been repeatedly wrong about the pandemic.

Atlas, who has appeared 20 times on Fox News since the end of April, predicted in March that there would only be 10,000 deaths from COVID in America, said in April that the pandemic "appears to be entering the containment phase," and claimed in May that "the curves have been flattened." More recently, he has taken to making unproven claims downplaying the risk of COVID-19 in considering whether to reopen schools for in-person learning.

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