Oct 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Twitter removes tweet from Trump's COVID adviser claiming masks do not work

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas

Scott Atlas. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter took down a tweet from one of President Trump's most visible coronavirus task force members, Scott Atlas, that claimed widespread use of face masks does not help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Why it matters: Atlas — who is a radiologist, not an epidemiologist — has become one of the president's favorite coronavirus advisers, despite his controversial views.

  • Atlas has falsely claimed that "herd immunity" can be achieved with 20%–25% of the population infected, and he suggested that calls for widespread testing and tracing are "grossly misguided.”
  • Atlas has frequently clashed with other members of the White House coronavirus task force. Last month, an NBC News reporter overheard CDC Director Robert Redfield saying on a phone call: "Everything he says is false."

The big picture: Atlas' tweet marks yet another example of the Trump administration sharing false or misleading information about COVID-19 as cases continue to spike across the country. Twitter told CNN the tweet was in violation of the company's misleading information policy around COVID-19 that could lead to harm.

  • The company has flagged and limited the sharing of several of Trump's misleading tweets around the coronavirus.
  • Atlas linked to an article from the American Institute for Economic Research that questioned the effectiveness of masks.

The bottom line: Ten states reported their highest number of coronavirus cases on Friday, and the country as a whole reported 70,000 new infections in a day for the first time since July.

Go deeper: Check out Axios' coronavirus dashboard

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