The U.S. response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic at the governmental level has—as detailed in a new report and made repeatedly evident in everyday life—been fraught with a damaging mixture of "distrust, infighting, and lethargy" thanks in large part to the rise of Scott Atlas.
Over the weekend, Twitter blocked a tweet from the Trump adviser for violating the site's policy against the sharing of false or misleading misinformation related to the pandemic. The tweet in question, as you may have learned since Sunday, saw Atlas—a frequent Fox News guest who's criticized as "manipulative" in a new investigative report from the Washington Post—suggesting that the widely recommended practice of wearing face masks doesn't work.
Among the alarming issues highlighted in the Post report, which is built on interviews with various administration officials and public health experts, is that the bulk of the Trump team—particularly with the rise of Atlas in its ranks—has actively and deliberately worked to undermine virus containment methods while largely abandoning the battle against the pandemic.
And while the report includes statements from Atlas in which he attempts to dispute the characterization of him as a poisonous force whose messaging has deeply infected the Trump administration's pandemic plan, or lack thereof, his own public behavior and the insight from a number of those closely involved with the White House show exactly that.
Atlas, for example, recently gave his endorsement to the so-called "Great Barrington Declaration," which is a libertarian-backed push for herd immunity that has connections with climate change denialism.
The main approach from the Trump team now very much appears to be hell-bent on pushing for a rushed vaccine, often against the advice of a slew of health experts. Politically speaking, as argued in the report, this push for a vaccine is built on the idea that it would be a magical fix-all that would simultaneously help Trump's re-election chances.
The full report from Yasmeen Abutaleb, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Robert Costa is well worth a deep dive and can be found here.
On Monday, the latest data from Johns Hopkins University showed that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has now surpassed 40 million. The U.S., meanwhile, has seen more than 8.1 million confirmed cases and nearly 220,000 deaths. The actual numbers, however, are widely said to be much higher due to underreporting and a lack of testing.