Dr. Scott Atlas has no meaningful experience or training in public health or infectious diseases, but he offers his opinions in a way on Fox News that impressed Donald Trump.
His principal opinion is the idea of "herd immunity" (although he is reluctant to use the phrase) , which, if pursued in America, would mean several million deaths and tens of millions of people permanently disabled with heart damage, strokes, dementia, chronic fatigue and other long-term health conditions that result from even mild cases of this infection.
We don't know if Atlas has falsely claimed that masks are ineffective because he wants as many people as possible to be infected to bring about his herd immunity idea, or if he is just deeply and profoundly stupid, but, in either case, he's apparently now the guy running the show.
Proof of that came last night when Donald Trump told George Stephanopoulos that he was trying to bring us to "herd mentality," catching himself as he almost said out loud the word "immunity." Like Atlas, he has to avoid that phrase because he knows real scientists ridicule the idea and no developed country is willing to treat their people so badly and have so many of them die and be permanently disabled.
But it's the cheapest, easiest way to do things, and that has always appealed to Donald Trump who is fundamentally lazy, and generally tries to cut corners and BS his way out of situations rather than give them serious thought or work. Trump has also been promoting herd immunity and variations on it ever since April 7 when it was reported that the virus disproportionately killed Black and Brown people. Statistics show that only about 20% of all non-geriatric coronavirus deaths are White people.
When that news became widely known, he started suggesting that masks don't work, a claim he repeated last night at his ABC Townhall. After all, in his mind killing off a lot of Black and Brown people while providing herd immunity to White people sounds like a great final solution.
This is probably why he's packing White people into his rallies. He thinks that if most Americans get can just quickly get infected, "the virus will just magically go away" because the Black and Brown people will die off and the White people will develop herd immunity.
As an added bonus, when large numbers of elderly people of all races die off, it will reduce the costs to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which may strengthen Trump's argument that all those programs should simply be shut down. He has, after all, promised that if he is reelected he will end Social Security within three years. It seems that would only work best if most Social Security recipients were dead.
Back in January, February, March, or April Donald Trump could have pursued a policy like Taiwan did of widespread mask-wearing, testing and contact tracing. Taiwan has not had a single new case since April 12, and it's been months since anybody there died as a result of local transmission. They have the virus under control, and they never even had to shut down their economy because the mask-wearing, testing and contact tracing was so successful. Life is largely back to normal there, with malls open, sporting events happening, and their economy is projected to grow almost 2% this year.
The Trump administration was moving in that direction until April 7, when the report came out that most people dying were not White. That appears to be when Trump and Kushner made the decision to shift to a herd immunity strategy. Trump and his circle appear to be such virulent White Supremacists that even public health policy is contaminated by their deep-seated, long-held racism.
A new administration can't come fast enough.