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Atlas, health officials feuds add to Trump coronavirus turmoil

The feuds between White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas and top public health officials are raising more questions about President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Atlas, a Stanford University neuroradiologist without experience in public health, first joined the White House coronavirus task force this summer after appearing frequently on Fox News.

He has come under fire from public health experts inside and outside the administration who accuse him of feeding Trump misinformation. 

They argue public health agencies are already facing a public confidence crisis and that Atlas’s influence is undermining those agencies even further.

“The only qualification he has is that he parrots what President Trump wants to hear. To me, that makes him doubly dangerous,” said Mark Rosenberg, who ran the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control from 1994 to 1999.

“Scott Atlas is pushing away the good advice of people like Tony Fauci and replacing it with absolutely baseless and misguided bad advice that will result in more people dying,” added Rosenberg, referring to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by JobsOhio – Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty Tillis appears to reinforce question about COVID-19 death toll Overnight Health Care: Trump signs largely symbolic pre-existing conditions order amid lawsuit | White House puts off action on surprise medical bills | Rising coronavirus cases spark fears of harsh winter MORE.

Like Trump, Atlas has publicly questioned the value of doing more testing and has said pandemic restrictions amount to “panic.” 

Atlas has argued that even if low-risk people get infected with COVID-19, it won’t lead to more deaths. He has also pushed to minimize the impact of the coronavirus on children as a way to reopen schools, a key goal for the Trump administration. 

Atlas has seen his role in the administration grow. 

Trump has invited Atlas to speak to the public and answer questions from reporters at recent White House news conferences about schools reopening, COVID-19 testing and other events. 

Noticeably absent have been Fauci, task force coordinator Deborah BirxDeborah BirxAtlas contradicts Redfield on population susceptibility to coronavirus Controversial CDC guidelines were written by HHS officials, not scientists: report Trump coronavirus adviser threatens to sue Stanford researchers MORE and CDC Director Robert Redfield.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews said Trump is not playing favorites.

“The President consults with many experts both inside and outside of the federal government, who sometimes disagree with one another,” Matthews said in a statement to The Hill. 

“President Trump relies on the advice and counsel of all of his top health officials every day and then makes policy decisions based on all of the information. Any suggestion that their role is being diminished is just false,” Matthews