Health Care

Trump adviser Scott Atlas criticizes plans to avoid seeing elderly for Thanksgiving

One of President Trump’s top advisers on the coronavirus pandemic raised concerns on Monday about excluding older family members from Thanksgiving celebrations, citing the risks of isolation.

Scott Atlas, who has promoted controversial ideas about the virus such as herd immunity, said on Fox News that it’s important to protect “vulnerable, high-risk, senior family members.” But he suggested it may be worth including them in holiday gatherings.

“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 told Martha MacCallum. “For many people, this is their final Thanksgiving believe it or not.”

“What are we doing here?” he continued. “I think we have to have a policy, which I have been advocating, which is a whole person, whole health policy. It’s not about just stopping cases of COVID, we have to talk about damage of the policy itself.”

Atlas praised the Trump administration for developing vaccines and getting resources to at-risk communities before adding “we cannot lock down.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged Americans to avoid holding Thanksgiving gatherings with people who do not live in their household in order to minimize the risks of spreading the coronavirus. If extended family or friends do attend, the CDC advises to wear masks and maintain a distance of at least six feet.

The holiday is fast approaching just as the United States sees an explosion in infections and a subsequent uptick in hospitalizations around the country. There have been roughly 2 million cases reported in the last two weeks. 

Atlas, who is not an infectious disease expert, drew a rebuke on Monday night from Stanford University, where he serves as a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

“We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing. We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities,” the university said in a statement.

“Dr. Atlas has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic,” the university added. “Dr. Atlas’s statements reflect his personal views, not those of the Hoover Institution or the university.”

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump Scott Atlas Thanksgiving

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