The governor of Michigan criticized Dr. Scott Atlas, one of President Donald Trump’s top Covid-19 advisers, after he said on Twitter Sunday that Michigan residents should “rise up” against its new restriction measures.
“The only way this stops is if people rise up,” Atlas said on Twitter. “You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.”
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been a frequent target for Trump and his supporters. Whitmer accused the president last month of encouraging “domestic terrorism” against public officials working to contain the spread of the coronavirus. She pointed to Trump’s criticism of her which prompted supporters to recite the chant “lock her up” at one of his rallies only a few days after law enforcement foiled a plot to kidnap her.
Whitmer said in an interview with MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday that she was taken aback by Atlas' tweet.
"It actually took my breath away, to tell you the truth," she said. "We are in the midst of the worst weeks of this pandemic. We have been going through this for nine months and right now the numbers are as bad as they have been at any given time and so we have to take aggressive measures."
"With the vacuum of leadership in Washington D.C., it's on the states' governors to do what we can to save lives,” Whitmer said.
In an interview Monday on the “TODAY” show, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert, said Atlas’ comments were wrong.
“I totally disagree with him,” Fauci said. “I totally disagree with the stand he takes. I just do, period.”
Atlas’ tweet came shortly after the governor announced a new order partially shutting down venues like restaurants, schools and bars after state officials said soaring case counts could lead to 1,000 deaths a week in Michigan.
The three-week directive, which also limits family gatherings and extends a mask mandate for indoor and outdoor gatherings, comes at a time when coronavirus cases surge across the country. On Sunday, the United States recorded its crossed 11 million Covid-19 cases.
In September, NBC News reported the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was overheard saying that everything Atlas said “is false.”
Dr. Robert Redfield suggested that Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases or public health, was misleading Trump and the American public with misinformation about the efficacy of masks and the potential benefits of herd immunity — counter to the advice of many infectious disease experts and state health officials.
This isn’t the first time Atlas has come under fire on Twitter.
Last month, Atlas falsely claimed that masks didn’t prevent the spread of coronavirus on Twitter. His tweet was removed and replaced with a note saying “This Tweet is unavailable,” linking to Twitter’s rules and policies, which outlined why and how the company chooses to remove or limit certain posts.
Whitmer added that the new restrictions will cut the state's losses short.
"We'll lose another 20,000 people just here in Michigan between now and the middle of February if we don't take aggressive action now," she said. "So for three weeks, we are going to tighten things up, batten down the hatches and try to get everyone to rise to the challenge in front of us."