The rise of White House COVID-19 adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, a lockdown skeptic who increasingly has Trump’s ear and is worrying experts like Fauci



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Dr. Scott Atlas (right) speaks at White House press conference on September 23, 2020, as President Donald Trump (left) looks on. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty


© MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty
Dr. Scott Atlas (right) speaks at White House press conference on September 23, 2020, as President Donald Trump (left) looks on. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

  • President Donald Trump brought Dr. Scott Atlas, a vocal anti-lockdown critic, onto his coronavirus task force in August.
  • Atlas is a healthcare-policy expert who works at the Hoover Institute, a conservative think tank at Stanford University. He is not an infectious-disease expert.
  • Yet the White House has increasingly brought him out to speak at recent coronavirus briefings instead of experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci or Dr. Deborah Birx.
  • He appears to be worrying top US health experts: CDC Director Robert Redfield was overheard saying “everything” Atlas says “is false,” and Fauci called him an “outlier” in his coronavirus views.
  • In response to Redfield and Fauci’s comments, Atlas told Business Insider: “Career government public health officials do not have a monopoly on knowledge.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dr. Scott Atlas has only been on the White House’s coronavirus task force for a month, but appears to already have President Donald Trump’s ear and is worrying top experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Atlas was brought onto Trump’s coronavirus task force in August, after appearing on Fox News for several months, where he often echoed the president’s views — including an opposition to lockdowns.

He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University.

Unlike the other experts on the task force, Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, Atlas does not have a specialty in either infectious diseases or public health. Instead, he focuses on healthcare policy and has a background in neuroradiology, which is the reading of X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.

Nonetheless, Atlas has become a favorite of the president, appearing often at the White House’s coronavirus briefings. Birx and Fauci have not spoken in those briefings as much in recent weeks.

Fauci, Redfield wave red flags

On Friday, an NBC News reporter overheard CDC Director Robert Redfield referring to Atlas in a phone conversation, saying “everything he says is false.” Redfield confirmed to the reporter after the flight that he was indeed talking about Atlas.



Robert R. Redfield wearing a suit and tie: CDC Director Robert Redfield seen testifying before the Senate on September 23, 2020. Redfield was overheard on a flight recently saying that "everything" Atlas says "is false." ALEX EDELMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty


© ALEX EDELMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty
CDC Director Robert Redfield seen testifying before the Senate on September 23, 2020. Redfield was overheard on a flight recently saying that “everything” Atlas says “is false.” ALEX EDELMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty

And in a Monday interview with CNN, Fauci described Atlas as an “outlier” when it came to his opinions on the virus.

“You know my differences with Dr. Atlas, I’m always willing to sit down and talk with him and see if we could resolve those differences,” Fauci said.

In response to Redfield and Fauci’s remarks, Atlas told Business Insider: “All of my policy recommendations to the President are directly backed by the current science, and they are in line with what many of the world’s top medical scientists advise, including Martin Kulldorff and Katherine Yih of Harvard Medical School;

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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Atlas Air Worldwide, BMC Stock, Central Garden & Pet Company, Comfort Systems USA and DICK’S Sporting Goods

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – September 17, 2020 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. AAWW, BMC Stock Holdings, Inc. BMCH, Central Garden & Pet Company CENT, Comfort Systems USA, Inc. FIX and DICK’S Sporting Goods, Inc. DKS.

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Wall Street Makes Record Recovery from Coronavirus: 5 Growth Picks

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, despite the recent turmoil, has almost recovered all losses suffered during the coronavirus pandemic. The blue-chip index bounced back from the bear market territory in March and is now near its all-time high achieved on Feb 12, 2020.

Similarly, the S&P 500 had plummeted more than 30% within six weeks this spring, marking its fastest descent from record levels into a bear market. But the broader index has been on an uptrend, recording the fifth successive month of rally in August in more than 80 years.

What’s more, the S&P 500’s journey from a record high in February to a bear market in March, and then again to a new record, only took 126 trading days this year, the fastest-ever climb. To put things into perspective, if we go back to 1928, it took the index 1,500 trading sessions to return to record levels after slipping into bear territory.

This year’s stock market rebound has been even more startling, since the year has been plagued by a pandemic that left millions of Americans unemployed, while corporate profits have seen the steepest collapse in a decade. So, what drove the historic rally? Primarily, stimulus from the Fed and the Congress helped the stock market scale north.

The Fed has kept interest rates at near-zero levels and has promised to keep it at that level even if inflation picks up. Fed’s initiative to lend billions across markets also buoyed investors. Moreover, as Fed bought corporate and Treasury bonds, yields tanked, making stocks more alluring.

At the same time, the U.S. government provided more than 150 million in stimulus checks to Americans and nearly half a trillion dollars in loans to small business houses. The encouraging response along with the lessons learned in the financial crisis of 2008 helped the stock market’s rebound.

And let’s admit, many investors still had faith that the U.S. economy will get its mojo back once the pandemic is under control. In fact, factory activity had accelerated in August, and hiring improved for the fourth straight month. Consumer outlays also picked up in August after a substantial drop. To top it, many analysts opine that the skid in corporate profits has likely bottomed, too. Leuthold Group, a research firm, added that many economists now expect annual GDP to improve next year at a rate not seen in the past 70 years.

Talking about individual performers, the tech behemoths in particular have

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New White House coronavirus adviser Atlas says he’s a ‘straight shooter’

Dr. Scott Atlas, the controversial newest addition to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, says he is a “straight shooter.” He proceeded to demonstrate that in a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with BBC Radio Friday.



a man wearing a suit and tie: FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2020, file photo Scott Atlas, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, speaks at a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington. Trump has announced that Dr. Scott Atlas, a frequent guest on Fox News channel, has joined the White House as a pandemic adviser.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)


© Andrew Harnik/AP/FILE
FILE – In this Aug. 12, 2020, file photo Scott Atlas, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, speaks at a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington. Trump has announced that Dr. Scott Atlas, a frequent guest on Fox News channel, has joined the White House as a pandemic adviser.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Atlas, a neuroradiologist who wrote a book on magnetic resonance imaging, said it doesn’t matter that he has no expertise in epidemiology or infectious diseases; he accused public health experts of ignoring data; said the US was doing better compared to Europe in terms of coronavirus deaths and claimed — incorrectly — that the case fatality rate in the US is down by more than 90%.

Atlas said ongoing restrictions to try to control the coronavirus pandemic are having worse effects than the virus itself.

“The impact of prolonging the lockdown is worse than the impact of the disease,” Atlas told the BBC Radio Newshour.

“There is a worse outcome from prolonging the lockdown and I think everyone knows that,” said Atlas, who is also a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

“We are not advocating – I am not advocating – less mitigation. What I’m advocating is using logic and rational reasoning to understand the harms of locking down,” Atlas said.

Atlas referred to reports showing some cancer patients are skipping chemotherapy, stroke patients are not going to the ER, childhood immunizations are down, and more people have contemplated suicide during lockdown.

“This is because of the lockdown. This is because of the isolation. This is not direct damage from the virus,” he said.

Atlas has been criticized for comments made earlier this year in defense of a herd immunity strategy for handling the pandemic. He has denied this and denied that he argued for letting the pandemic run its course.

“I have never, literally never, advised the President of the United States to pursue a strategy of herd immunity, of opening the doors and letting people get infected. I have never advised that, I have never advocated for that to the task force, I have never told anybody in the White House that that’s what we should be doing,” Atlas said.

He also said that the concept of herd immunity is not controversial.

“It is known to exist, if you don’t understand herd immunity as an immunologist or as a doctor or anyone involved in the discussion about this, there’s something, you know, missing from your knowledge,” Atlas said. “Herd immunity is a phenomenon.”

Herd immunity develops when enough people get an infection and when there is a vaccine, Atlas said.

“That is the whole purpose of generating a vaccine,” he said. “That is the main purpose

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