(Headline USA) Donald Trump has found a new doctor for his coronavirus task force — and this time there’s no daylight between them.
Trump last week announced that Dr. Scott Atlas has joined the White House as a pandemic adviser.
Atlas is the former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center and a fellow at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution.
But he has long been a critic of coronavirus lockdowns and has said that kids should return to the classroom and that students should return to college sports.
“Scott is a very famous man who’s also very highly respected,” Trump told reporters as he introduced the addition. “He has many great ideas and he thinks what we’ve done is really good.”
Atlas’ hiring comes amid ongoing tensions between the president and Drs. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, and Deborah Birx, the task force’s coordinator.
Atlas, the sole doctor to share the stage at Trump’s pandemic briefings this past week, has long questioned polices that have been embraced by public health experts both in the U.S. and abroad.
He has called it a “good thing” for younger, healthy people to be exposed to the virus, while saying children are at near “zero risk.”
In an April op-ed in The Hill newspaper, Atlas wrote that lockdowns may have prevented the development of “natural herd immunity.”
“In the absence of immunization, society needs circulation of the virus, assuming high-risk people can be isolated,” he wrote.
In television appearances, Atlas has called on the nation to “get a grip” and argued that “there’s nothing wrong” with having low-risk people get infected, as long as the vulnerable are protected.
“It doesn’t matter if younger, healthier people get infected. I don’t know how often that has to be said. They have nearly zero risk of a problem from this,” he said in one appearance.
“When younger, healthier people get infected, that’s a good thing,” he went on to say, “because that’s exactly the way that population immunity develops.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere, in a statement, praised Atlas as “a world renowned physician and scholar.”
“We are all in this fight together, and only the media would distort and diminish Dr. Atlas’ highly acclaimed career simply because he has come to serve the President,” he said.
Paul E. Peterson, director of the program on education policy and governance at Harvard University and a senior fellow at Hoover with Atlas, praised Atlas as “a really brilliant guy” with “a tremendous knowledge base” about the virus.
Peterson said Atlas is someone who conducts “the most rigorous and careful research before he comes to a conclusion.”
“If you get a variety of people from one perspective or one kind of training out there, that’s not desirable,” he said. “It’s extremely important to have diversity on the advisory board.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.