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Covid task force members worried about 'misinformation' being shared with Trump

The concerns focused on Dr. Scott Atlas, a special adviser to Trump who rejected mainstream mitigation measures in favor of herd immunity.
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WASHINGTON — Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force during the Trump administration expressed concerns with each other about “misinformation” being shared with the president, according to emails obtained by a congressional subcommittee and shared with NBC News.

Among the emails that will be made public at a congressional hearing Thursday morning is one from Deborah Birx, who served as Covid response coordinator under former President Donald Trump. Birx expressed concerns to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other task force members about Scott Atlas, a radiologist who joined the White House in August 2020 as a special adviser.

Atlas rejected mainstream mitigation measures, such as mask wearing, social distancing and widespread testing, in favor of the establishment of herd immunity as a means of protecting the population from the pandemic.

“A very dangerous meeting in the OVAL yesterday,” Birx wrote before listing Atlas’ views, which included that “Case identification is bad for the President’s reelection — testing should only be of the sick.”

Birx is scheduled to testify before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis at 10 a.m. ET Thursday. It will be her first public testimony about her time in the Trump White House.

In another August 2020 email, Birx referred to Atlas’ positions as “parallel thoughts” and “misinformation.”

“I’m at a loss of what we should do,” Birx wrote to Fauci, Robert Redfield, then director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Seema Verma, who headed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “We need to stop these infections or there will be 300k dead by Dec.”

Atlas did not immediately return a request from NBC News for comment.

Birx also told the subcommittee that she was pressured to make changes to some of the weekly data reports she sent to state and local officials, including to recommendations on masking and indoor capacity restrictions, prompting her to make those recommendations "less obvious" to White House officials skimming the reports.

“So I learned to put the things that there were issues with into the second part of a sentence,” she testified, referring to recommendations that would raise objections from the Trump White House.

The emails will be released by the subcommittee along with full transcripts from Birx’s closed-door interview with the panel in October.