Amid mounting public clashes with his top public health advisers over the pandemic, Donald Trump appears to have turned to an academic whose views on the rapid reopening to the coronavirus mirror his own.
On Monday, the president said Scott Atlas, a health policy expert at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University, “will work with us on the coronavirus,” adding that Atlas “has a lot of good ideas.”
Atlas appears to be more in tune with Trump’s thinking on the virus after the president publicly criticized his two main perpetrators of the pandemic, Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, over concerns they raised about the disastrous spread of Covid -19 in the United States and the danger of allowing students to return to school.
In June, Atlas said the idea that schools could not reopen after summer recess was “hysteria” and “ridiculous.” The new White House adviser has also called for the resumption of college football – a move favored by conservatives – despite an increase in cases of the virus in many states.
“The university sports environment is very sophisticated, it is controlled, there is a responsibility. Athletes couldn’t get a better, safer environment, ”Atlas told Fox News earlier this week.
“Young people of this age, without comorbidity, have practically no risk. The risk is less than that of seasonal flu. There is such fear in the community, and unfortunately it has been spread by people who think badly and do sensationalist reports in the media.
Atlas, who holds a medical degree from the University of Chicago School of Medicine, previously provided health policy advice to various companies and presidential candidates, including Trump’s ally , Rudy Giuliani. He also used his overseas services to advise the World Bank and academics in China.
While young, healthy people seem less likely to have severe coronavirus disease than older people, they can still pass it on to others by being asymptomatic.
Young people themselves are not immune from the serious effects either – a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about a quarter of young adults do not recover from the virus for several weeks.
Covid-19, according to the study, “can be prolonged, even in young adults without chronic medical conditions, which could lead to prolonged absence from work, school or other activities.”
A separate study of UC San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospitals found there had been an increase in hospitalizations among young people, most likely caused by Covid-19.
Despite this, the Trump administration has urged schools to reopen normally, in some cases threatening financial support if they don’t. College sports have also been targeted by the administration, with Vice President Mike Pence tweeting “America needs college football” this week.