Controversial ‘Herd Immunity’ Strategy Pushed By Trump-Backed Task Force Member
Scott Atlas, President Donald Trump's latest favored adviser on the pandemic, is urging the White House to adopt a new approach and allow COVID-19 to spread in an effort to achieve "herd immunity." The Washington Report reports that some such policies are already being implemented.
The Washington Post:
New Trump Coronavirus Adviser Scott Atlas Pushes Controversial 'Herd Immunity' Strategy
One of President Trump’s top medical advisers is urging the White House to embrace a controversial “herd immunity” strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus, while taking steps to protect those in nursing homes and other vulnerable populations, according to five people familiar with the discussions. The administration has already begun to implement some policies along these lines, according to current and former officials as well as experts, particularly with regard to testing. (Abutaleb and Dawsey, 8/31)
The Washington Post:
What Is Herd Immunity And Why Are Trump Officials Pursuing An Idea WHO Calls ‘Dangerous’?
Trump administration officials are starting to move towards coronavirus policies that are in line with a “herd immunity” strategy — a controversial approach that involves deliberately allowing the coronavirus to spread to build up population resistance more quickly while protecting the most vulnerable. In theory, as the number of survivors with immunity increases to a certain level, the virus’s spread would slow and eventually stop. The only problem: A whole lot of people would die before that point. (Wan, 8/31)
Controversial Doctor Gives Trump Highly Dubious Advice On Pandemic
The neuroradiologist has "no expertise in public health or infectious disease mitigation," he hasn't practiced medicine in nearly a decade, and he's demonstrated a habit of echoing unscientific claims, but Atlas nevertheless had something more important: the capacity to tell the president what he wants to hear. ... The chief proponent of this approach is, of course, Scott Atlas, who reportedly now speaks with Trump "almost every day" -- a benefit public-health officials do not have -- and who has "expanded his influence inside the White House by advocating policies that appeal to Trump's desire to move past the pandemic and get the economy going." (Benen, 8/31)
In other updates on the Trump administration's response to the pandemic —
The Wall Street Journal:
How Trump Sowed Covid Supply Chaos. ‘Try Getting It Yourselves.’
Sergio Melgar, the chief financial officer for the largest health-care system in central Massachusetts, was about to run out of medical-grade N95 masks. A Chinese company poised to replenish the supply wanted the money upfront. It was after midnight on March 20, too late to arrange a wire transfer. So Mr. Melgar took out his own credit card and authorized a $100,000 charge. “If I don’t do this,” he recalls thinking, “we will run out.” (Bender and Ballhaus, 8/31)
HHS Seeks To Spend $250M On Campaign To 'Inspire Hope' On Pandemic: Report
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is looking to spend $250 million on a communications campaign aimed to “inspire hope” about the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reported Monday, citing an internal document. The department sent a number of communications firms a “performance work statement” laying out what work would be expected of the company that secures the bid, stating that the vast majority of the money will be spent from now until January, Politico reported. (Klar, 8/31)
HHS Names Ashmore As Acting Chief Information Officer
Perryn Ashmore, principal deputy chief information officer at HHS, on Friday began serving as the department's acting CIO. Jose Arrieta, who had served as HHS' CIO for 16 months, formally resigned from his role Friday. Arrieta on Aug. 14 had announced plans to resign, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his children. Arrieta at the time had reportedly told HHS Secretary Alex Azar he planned to continue to serve as CIO temporarily to ensure a smooth leadership transition. (Cohen, 8/31)
Trump Knocks Fauci: 'I Inherited Him'
President Trump on Monday questioned the value of Anthony Fauci to the White House coronavirus task force, saying in an interview with Fox News that he "inherited" the government's top infectious disease expert. "I disagree with a lot of what he said," Trump told Laura Ingraham when asked if he would put Fauci "front and center" in the pandemic response if he could do it again. (Samuels, 8/31)