Trump’s top COVID advisor blocks testing and attacks masks -- but says Americans who have had a cold are protected
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, delivers remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Sunday, March 15, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Donald Trump installed radiologist Dr. Scott Atlas as his top coronavirus expert after seeing him on Fox News. Atlas has attacked the wearing of masks saying they don't work, has blocked the federal government from spending billions in congressionally-approved funds for coronavirus testing, and pushed a quack theory that claims Americans who have had the common cold are somehow protected from the deadly coronavirus.

The Washington Post on Monday published a lengthy exposé exposing Atlas.

Although he denies it, Atlas is supporting "herd immunity," claiming far fewer Americans than scientists say need to be infected with coronavirus in order to stop the pandemic.

"Given the transmissibility of the coronavirus, experts estimate about 60 to 70 percent of the population would need to become infected to reach herd immunity, a course that they warn would probably result in hundreds of thousands of excess deaths."

CDC Director Robert Redfield says less than 10% of Americans have been infected with the coronavirus.

"Atlas publicly contradicted Redfield last month, telling reporters that more of the population was protected against the virus because of so-called T-cell immunity, in which people with exposure to previous coronaviruses — such as the common cold — have T cells that also protect them against covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus."

Atlas' claim is false, as the 8 million Americans already infected and the 220,000 who have died prove.

But science isn't Atlas' goal: pushing Trump's goal of completely re-opening the country is Atlas' goal.

"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," The Post reports. "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."

Atlas has blocked proposals from Birx and Fauci, which called for "dramatically increasing the nation’s testing capacity, especially as experts anticipate a devastating increase in cases this winter. They have urged the government to use unspent money Congress allocated for testing — which amounts to $9 billion, according to a Democratic Senate appropriations aide — so that anyone who needs to can get a test with results returned quickly."

And as was widely reported, Twitter over the weekend removed a tweet Dr. Atlas posted attacking masks, for violating its safety standards and rules about spreading misinformation.