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Twitter Removes Tweet From Top Trump Covid Adviser Doubting Mask Effectiveness

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Topline

Twitter on Sunday removed a tweet from Dr. Scott Atlas, one of President Trump’s top advisers on Covid-19, that doubted the efficacy of face coverings to curb the spread of coronavirus—a move that comes as the president himself continues to cast doubt about the usefulness of masks.

President Trump Holds A News Conference At The White House

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 23: Dr. Scott Atlas, member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, … [+] speaks at a news conference in the briefing room of the White House on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump fielded questions about a coronavirus vaccine and the latest developments in the Breonna Taylor case among other topics. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

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Key Facts

“Masks work? NO” the tweet from Atlas began:

The tweet was flagged by Twitter for violating company policies and was subsequently deleted by the platform.

Clicking on the tweet returned a “This Tweet is no longer available” message from Twitter and a link to the company rules.

In a follow-up tweet, Atlas linked to the now-deleted message and praised President Trump’s mask “policy” and called for no “widespread mandates.”

Key Background

After growing frustrated with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, the president turned to Atlas, a neuroradiologist and healthcare policy expert with no expertise in the study of infectious disease, for advice on how to lead the pandemic response. Atlas had captured the president’s attention after making multiple appearances on Fox News and calling for schools to open. He also railed against the “frenzy” surrounding mass testing. 

Crucial Quote

Atlas has been a fervent supporter of “herd immunity,” an approach—currently being embraced by the White House—that involves reaching a certain level of immunity in a population through exposure. During an interview with Fox News in July, he said: “These people getting the infection is not really a problem, and in fact, as we said months ago, when you isolate everyone, including all the healthy people, you’re prolonging the problem because you’re preventing population immunity. Low-risk groups getting the infection is not a problem. In fact, it’s a positive.” Scientists have raised doubts about claims the U.S. is close to reaching herd immunity, as experts say 85%-90% of the country is still at risk of catching the disease.

Surprising Fact

Last month, a group of 98 immunologists, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts signed a letter decrying the “falsehoods” Atlas had spread about the disease. 

Further Reading

Who Is Dr. Scott Atlas? Trump’s New Covid Health Adviser Seen As Counter To Fauci And Birx (Forbes)

Fact check: Digging into Trump’s false claim that CDC found that 85% of people who wear masks get the coronavirus (CNN)

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