Trump, Atlas: Time to Face Down Coronavirus Fear

The uproar over the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis made one thing abundantly and terrifyingly clear: Coronavirus hysteria is here to stay—and there are signs it might be getting worse seven months after we first confronted the unknown disease.

Rather than accept that nearly all the early advice dispensed by self-proclaimed “experts” was not just wrong but resulted in devastating consequences that will impact the country for years to come, lots of Americans—including the entire news industry and leaders of both political parties—are endorsing more punitive government decrees to “stop” a virus that poses almost no serious health threat to the overwhelming majority of Americans.

People are fixated on masks; the president of the United States isn’t allowed to take a brief ride in an SUV with people trained to take a bullet on his behalf without enduring widespread condemnation for “risking the lives of others” even though everyone wore a mask and other protective gear. Most of Monday night’s town hall meeting with Joe Biden revolved around mask use.

Panic rules daily life at the same time we have fewer reasons to panic. Recent data crunched by the Centers for Disease Control confirms that nearly everyone under the age of 70 who contracts the disease recovers; 95 percent of adults over 70 recover, too. Most sufferers report mild symptoms; overly-sensitive tests give false positives for people showing no symptoms at all. Hospitals are not overflowing with COVID patients and, with few exceptions, never were.

But the paranoia is so baked in that it seems unlikely the country will emerge from this constant state of fear anytime soon. How can we regain our senses and return to normal life while accepting that this virus is not unlike other serious viruses that we’ve handled in the past without tanking the economy, surrendering to house arrest, or running around screaming about face coverings?

The president, thankfully, emerged from his brief convalescence with a new fighting spirit. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” the president tweeted Monday morning when he announced he would be headed home from Walter Reed Medical Center. “We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge.” In a video taped at the White House Monday evening, the president underscored his have-no-fear message. “I learned so much about coronavirus. And one thing that’s for certain, don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re gonna beat it.”

It appears that Trump’s new COVID advisors are having an impact. In August, the president appointed Dr. Scott Atlas, a critic of lockdowns and our one-size-fits-all remedy to cure the virus; Atlas, 65, is a much-needed antidote to the attention-hungry, flip-flopping Anthony Fauci, who refuses to exit the media’s adoring spotlight or entertain any opposing viewpoint.

I talked to Dr. Scott Atlas on Monday afternoon, shortly after the president announced he would be leaving the hospital and getting back to work, which prompted yet another round of convulsions from the cult of Trump haters who simply cannot get a grip on reality.

“The president isn’t going to hide from the public or the press,” Atlas told me. “He wants to go to work. He wants to see Americans and he wants to interact with others. He won’t hide in the basement or frozen in fear behind a mask.” (Atlas also has been advising Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who lifted restrictions on bars and restaurants on September 25 in his pursuit to normalize his state’s economy.)

Contrary to Joe Biden’s frequent accusation that the president won’t “listen” to the scientists, Atlas said that “narrative could not be more wrong. There is a difference of opinion in the scientific community. There is no monopoly on knowledge.” 

Atlas named several top scientists, including noted epidemiologists, who refute the efficacy and humanity of lockdowns, especially school closings. Dr. John Ioannidis, who like Atlas is associated with Stanford University, wrote a prescient article in March 2020 forewarning the “fiasco” of extended lockdowns. (Ioannidis’ explanatory video that same month was removed from YouTube for violating the site’s terms of service, which meant the professor of medicine and epidemiology at one of the world’s premier universities dared to hold an opinion outside mainstream thinking at the time.)

Other experts such as Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, and Dr. Sunetra Gupta are partnering with Atlas to use science and logic in hopes of deprogramming a largely brainwashed public. The trio this week issued a statement, called the Great Barrington Declaration, aimed at promoting “focused protection” that would safeguard high-risk populations while encouraging life to return to normal as quickly as possible. “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies,” the declaration states. “Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.” Thousands of experts and members of the public have signed the petition so far.

The United States is the only country in the world, Atlas said, with this level of hysteria over reopening schools. “We are sacrificing our children. We are eliminating socialization and group activities. It’s harming low-income families most because the lockdown is the luxury of the rich.”

Atlas doesn’t argue with the initial response to the virus. The attempt to prevent hospital overcrowding and buy time to prepare the health system was “appropriate,” Atlas said. But the medical and scientific community knows much more about the virus now. “It isn’t March or April, it’s October. We can’t continue to just believe people we thought had the whole story at first.”

Those people—Atlas didn’t name names but I will—include Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and Dr. Robert Redfield, the hapless head of the Centers for Disease Control. Fauci is taking shots at Atlas in the press, referring to him as an “outlier.”

Beltway insiders, on the other hand, are attempting to smear Atlas by distorting his view on herd immunity, a scientific concept that up until a few months ago was universally accepted as truth. Suddenly the term is presented in the media in scare quotes as if it’s the latest Republican-fueled conspiracy theory. “Denying herd immunity is like denying gravity,” Atlas told me. “But there is no policy recommendation, none, that cites herd immunity as a strategy.”

Democrats have planned to leverage the twin crises of COVID-19 and the economic shutdowns to win in November. Biden’s message, not surprisingly, is all over the place, at once condemning the president for not doing enough to stop the spread then condemning the president for the economic and societal consequences of the lockdown that was intended to stop the spread.

Polls consistently show low approval ratings for the president on his handling of the disease; most respondents believe Biden would do a better job even though his plans do not differ from the president’s. Biden continues to flip-flop on a national mask mandate but has publicly said he would authorize another economic lockdown.

It’s increasingly likely the election will be a referendum on Coronavirus and its after-effects, which means Trump’s new tack is a risky, but necessary, one.

Someone needs to push back forcefully on this destructive course with reason, compassion, and yes, science. The president needs to explain that he will lead us back to the life we abruptly left behind in March. “What we’ve seen is the arrogance of the elite in a highly charged political climate,” Atlas said. “Leaders have to make decisions that make sense that take into account the impact of their policies.”

“We need to save lives and get America back to work.”

Indeed.

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago. She also volunteered for her local GOP organization. After staying home for more than 10 years to raise her two daughters, Julie began teaching cooking classes out of her home. She then started writing about food policy, agriculture, and biotechnology, as well as climate change and other scientific issues. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 with a degree in communications and minor degrees in political science and journalism. Julie lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and (unfortunately) three dogs.

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

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27 responses to “Trump, Atlas: Time to Face Down Coronavirus Fear

  • The majority of American’s already know COVID is nothing to fear and the Democrats are trying to use it as a weapon to win. Trump needs to drive this home at debate 2.

    Covid will not be the defining issue of this campaign. The Democrats refusing to approve stimulus and the affect on the economy will be. It is always the Economy stupid, no matter what the fake polls say.

    • That’s why the 2nd debate will be Trump’s most important moment in his first term. He needs to make that case.

    • Disagree, we have reached the tipping point were a majority of Americans are sheep looking to the good Shepard big government to keep them safe. I am an optimist by nature, but I am also a realist, two very large demographics are driving this. The first are those under 30, they have been indoctrinated their entire lives by our so called education system and have no moral grounding due to not having a belief in anything other than humanism, the second group are the old and infirm who have been stampeded by the msm propaganda in company with the so called experts into believing the China virus is a death sentence for them.

  • Julie’s op-ed makes an argument that I am not seeing out here in the Red State. I work big box retail and more and more customers are defying our nanny governor’s diktat and shopping without wearing the clown mask of fear and submission. I believe that President Trump’s working weekend in a luxury hospital suite while being cured of his carnovirus infection blasted the plague panic to smithereens.

    If people want to fear what has clearly become yet another Democrat Party hoax that’s on them. For the rest of us, the real fear and panic will set in if Joe Biden is elected President this November. For then, America will cease to be and Bolshevik Democrat Party terror will be unleashed upon the land.

  • Thank you for the great column. Fear is a great motivator and used properly is wonderful. The left is using the fear of a virus that no one can stop as a hammer.
    Their tyrannical dictates are killing us.
    So go vote in person and vote straight Republican ticket.

  • Yes it is terrible that Pelosi is holding up the stimulus money. But what is really needed is elimination of the restrictions (masks, social distancing, 25% capacity at venues etc.) and get the economy going again. This is the only stimulus that will work.

    For those who still fear the virus after restrictions are lifted they can continue to wear a mask and social distance or stay home. Their choice, not the government’s, just as it should be.

  • When covid 1984 started and I read about hydroxychloroquine, I never imagined that 8 months later we would be where we are. What surprised me is how people accepted the masks and the shutdown. I kept thinking that people would defy the mask mentality but it never happened.

    Fauci has gone on unopposed since February. And as much as he has been wrong, there have been few that questioned him in the media, in spite of horrific models and recommendations. Dr. Atlas is a breath of fresh air. So glad to see him on the national spotlight.

    All Americans should burn their masks and get back to work. This is a flu and it’s time to move on with our lifes.

  • When covid 1984 started and I read about hydroxychloroquine, I thought it would be over in a few short months. I never imagined that 8 months later we would be where we are. What surprised me is how people accepted the masks and the shutdown. I kept thinking that people would defy the mask mentality but it never happened.

    Fauci has gone on unopposed since February. And as much as he has been wrong, there have been few that questioned him in the media, in spite of horrific models and recommendations. Dr. Atlas is a breath of fresh air. So glad to see him on the national spotlight.

    All Americans should burn their masks and get back to work. This is a flu and it’s time to move on with our lives.

  • Thank you for your sensible column! I’m trying to survive this situation in CA but is sooo difficult- absolutely fear for my well-being and my home if I talk about my thoughts-watching everyone give up their rights is so frustrating and trying to get across the fact that hiding only delays- seeing people I thought had brains allowing their kids futures to be affected so much! I live in America… LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE! Where is everyone?

  • This article is more common sense.
    On November 2nd, I am going to sell off my entire Kool Aid stock holdings.
    I will be investing in antidepressants. There’s gonna be a big demand for them on November 4th.

  • Mr. Trump is right when he challenges Americans to not let this virus dominate all aspects of everyone’s lives when only a small portion of society is at serious health risk. If someone wants to cower in fear, let them do so. There will always be cowards, afraid to step out of their door…

    “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Bilbo Baggins – Lord of the Rings

    • I see your LOTR and raise you a Hunter Thompson:

      “So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

  • Here in South Florida, many businesses still have those mask fliers posted in their windows. I attempted to shop in a grocery store without a muzzle but was told by a store manager that I would have to cover my face. When I informed him of Governor DeSantis’ most recent executive order, the manager told me that they were a private company and so I would still need to cover my face.

    When I was wandering around a park the other day, a family of three looked terrified that I was not wearing muzzle. Upon seeing me, the teenage daughter immediately put her muzzle over her mouth and nose and the mother swung her Birx-like scarf over her mouth and nose. The father covered his face as well. This park had few other visitors, and it was breezy and over 90 degrees. And, of course, we were “socially distanced”.

  • I know around a dozen people who have had or currently have the virus. NONE have died and only one was hospitalized. One, who has heart problems, was given supplemental oxygen. One couple owns a pizza parlor; NONE of their employees contracted the virus. They told me it was “like a bad cold when you feel really bad.” I live in the Houston area, where the positivity rate is now 3.2% and 342 were admitted to hospitals in the entire area yesterday. This is actually a very mild virus that causes serious issues in some people, as does the flu and even a simple cold.

  • The US is different from the rest of the world on one very important issue. The rest of the world is not in the Election Year with the opposition Party once again running on nothing but the failed policies of the previous president 4 years ago. They lost the 2016 election for the same reason and have failed to correct themselves. If these 2 problems were not facing the US we would not be in a position where wearing a silly mask which at best is 40% effective determines whether you want to kill your fellow citizens or not. What else would you risk your life for something that is only 40% effective?

  • I am simply appalled at the favoritism shown covid. I demand equal representation and fear-mongering for rhinovirus. We may also be sure that in violating the 1st Amendment to favor the Branch Covidian, the govt also violating Title IX in some obscure way, and probably the Logan Act besides. It is furthermore a violation of the emanated, penumbrated rights of retro and other viruses that only the name covid is ever invoked to stoke fear and alarm in the population; this inherently damages the reputations of the other viruses, which work hard to bring humanity low and whose contributions to that end cry out for acknowledgement.

  • It was obvious seven months ago that this was never going to end if people didn’t stand up to the panic. If we had beaten the living hell out of everyone demanding we give up our rights due to hysteria, this would have been over in April.

  • With more than 200K people dead, the jokers are still in denial.

    Trump was in denial of Science and the whole white house is infected and in turmoil. The sad part is that they are still in denial.

    • No one is joking about 200K dead. It is not funny.

      We may well quibble the numbers….and there is a vast difference between dying FROM WuhanV and dying WITH WuhanV (The CDC estimates that the virus has killed — by itself — only about 6% of the total 200K — the balance suffering from, on average, 2.4 additional comorbidities per)…. but death is always tragic.

      Equally, though, we must recognize that across that 7month and counting timeframe a totally unremarkable average of about 1.8M of us have died anyway. 8000 of us die every day without a single peep from Lester Holt. 8000 family tragedies and that is daily-death-as-normal.

      What we don’t know is the relationship between the 200K and the 1.8M. Are they all incremental? Of course not…. with a median victim’s age of 80, each averaging 2.4 comorbidities, we can only conclude that some significant portion of those deaths are (or would be) included in the 1.8M, regardless of the virus. We can also, statistically, assume that some additional portion are deaths ‘pushed’ by WuhanV into an earlier timeframe (to be followed by a subsequent dip).

      Are they all, then, already included in that normal 1.8M death harvest? Again, of course not. The extreme cases of viral infection have undoubtedly killed many who otherwise would still be with us. And what we don’t know is — a year or two from now, when we look at the 2020-21 death totals — whether we’ll see a significant and incremental bump over and above the historical averages…or whether we’re see, simply a different curve.

      In any case, no one is in denial of science….save those who insist that the ‘science’ for WuhanV is in any way truly settled. It’s not. It’s not really in the nature of Science to truly ‘settle’, once and for all, on much of anything. Rather it is a constant struggle — balancing what we think we know against what we continually learn (assuming we’re open-minded enough to actually learn), against what we politically, socially, and culturally wish to do.

      Yes, there is a slight chance of dying from WuhanV (about .1% +/- depending upon one’s age and comorbid status). And absolute and total lockdown, with full quarantine, will — at the very least — slow the infection rate. But what is the price paid on the other side of the equation?

      As always, in everything, there is a balance. What are the risks & costs of an open society? What are the risks & costs of a lockdown world? That is not a science question….(though science might help us with various parts and pieces of the answer)… that is a political, cultural, and social question to be answered NOT by men in white lab coats but by us (as in “we, the people”).

      The mistake we’ve made for the last 7 months is in thinking otherwise.

      • Great comment, but I think you meant “at the very best” or “at most” instead of “at the very least.”

      • “But what is the price paid on the other side of the equation?”

        The cost has been outrageous and something for which our generation will be remembered, unkindly. We deliberately wrecked the best economy in history, devastated small businesses and local merchants, traumatized our children in ways we cannot possibly repair, and have likely wiped out the middle class, the Left’s conspicuous goal all along.

        Not to speak of the trillions of indebtedness, a fraction of which could have worked wonders in medical research.

        My wife died last year from multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease that is too uncommon to receive much attention or money. I’m thankful she did not hang on long enough to see what the China virus and the Democrats have done to our beloved country. May God help us as we try to save our drowning republic.

    • Whoever wrote this is an idiot. They capitalize “Science” as if it is a divine voice when Julie’s article clearly demonstrates that there is rational, scientific disagreement on issues like mask-wearing and lockdowns. The experts at Imperial College London supported lockdowns while the experts at Oxford opposed them. So why is one side “science” and not the other? Many of the +200K deaths could have been prevented if we listened to those scientific experts who said that we should focus on preventing the virus from infecting old people and anyone who has other underlying health conditions. The writer seems to think that the words “science” and “denial” endsall intellectual debate. This person doesn’t seem to enjoy intellectual debate but wants to close it down!

  • Reopen the World!
    There is no other rational, reasonable, righteous choice.

    There are sharks in the sea who might kill us — still, we go swimming. There are bears in the woods who might eat us — still we go hiking. Snakes who might bite us….cars which might hit us….ladders we might fall from…. chainsaws that might chop us…. guns which might shoot us….. psychopaths who might murder us…. heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, brain tumors, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, lupus, sickle cell anemia, ebola, typhoid, malaria, yellow fever, influenza, the bubonic plague! Hell, simple age will sooner or later get us all!

    And still we go about living. As long as we can; as well as we can; as best we can. Why would we choose anything else?

    We are not made to cower-in-place. We are not made to mask and isolate…to avoid our friends to hide from family….to celebrate no weddings, to mourn no funerals….to step off the path and turn our face to avoid what we fear is contamination by the Other. NO! Now is the time for embracing!! None other.

    How many millions of us have died — over the last 244 years — to make this nation what it is…to protect this country’s life, our lives, this world? For what? To allow their children to throw it all away out of fear? To crash & burn in 8 short months what no enemy has ever done in all our wars combined?

    We used to understand that sacrifice. We used to revere that sacrifice. “From these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    Unless, of course, there’s a .1% chance that I might catch WuhanV….and then get sick enough to notice….and then get even sicker and get hospitalized….and then get so sick I die. Given that .1% chance….maybe Lincoln had it wrong????

    But Gettysburg was then. Today, we huddle and cloak ourselves, douse ourselves with disinfectants, refuse all human touch and pass in fear and trembling. Today we so declare: “Even one death is one death too many!”

    What utter and total crap.
    Life is risk; it ends in death. The only question: how are we to live in that brief and passing in-between?

    There is no choice.
    There never has been.
    We cannot shut the world down. We cannot trade living for mere existence in a germicidal limbo, waiting to be rescued by a Magic Vaccine. No. Reject it absolutely.

    Open the world; open our hearts; open our arms – embrace it all!

  • Sweden got it right. The US response has been a disaster. Deaths and hospitalizations are way down and the number of cases is way up. This indicates that doctors understand how to treat it. Trump is right; we should not live in fear. We desperately need to go back to living our lives.

  • There was a very cautious man who never laughed or cried.
    He never cared, he never dared. He never dreamed or tried.
    He never sang; he never danced. He never romped or played.
    He never smoked; he never drank, or even kissed a maid.
    And when one day he passed away insurance was denied.
    Because he hadn’t ever lived, they claimed he hadn’t died.

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