In his latest anti-science appeal to Americans, White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas on Monday night called on families to ignore the guidance of public health experts who say the holiday season should not include indoor gatherings—suggesting to Fox News that families should take the risk even for elderly or sick relatives this Thanksgiving because they will no longer be alive next year.
"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, who has no public health expertise, told Fox host Martha MacCallum. "For many people this is their final Thanksgiving, believe it or not. What are we doing here?"
Stanford University, where Atlas was a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution before joining President Donald Trump's coronavirus team, promptly distanced itself from the doctor's comments, while political observers expressed shock on social media.
Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall wrote that for many Americans it will be their last Thanksgiving "because they're attending Thanksgiving."
Protecting the elderly from Covid-19 is one of the main reasons infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and other officials have called on Americans to skip indoor family gatherings and traveling this year. Last week he advised Americans to wear face coverings at any gatherings they do have if they don't know the Covid-19 status of all attendees.
Meanwhile, Atlas has falsely stated that face masks don't reduce transmission of Covid-19 and is a proponent of the U.S. government taking a "herd immunity"approach to the pandemic—encouraging people who are relatively young and healthy to go about their daily lives with no regard for mask-wearing, social distancing, or the existence of a virus that's killed more than 246,000 people in the U.S. this year, while using unspecified methods to separate them from people who are elderly or at high risk for severe Covid-19 infections.
The "herd immunity" approach, euphemistically rebranded as "focused protection" by some proponents, has been denounced as "fringe" by seasoned public health officials.
On Sunday, Atlas also called on Michigan residents to "rise up" against public health guidance after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that in-person learning, indoor dining, organized sports, and other activities would be shut down for three weeks to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
"This guy is a public health menace and it needs to stop now," tweeted one emergency room physician on Monday evening following Atlas's comments about Thanksgiving.