The pandemic numbers are rising again, and this is the kind of phenomenon responsible leadership could have checked. We lack responsible leadership, though.
Dr. Robert Redfield, who leads the CDC, suggested in a conversation with a colleague Friday that Dr. Scott Atlas is arming Trump with misleading data about a range of issues, including questioning the efficacy of masks, whether young people are susceptible to the virus and the potential benefits of herd immunity.
“Everything he says is false,” Redfield said during a phone call made in public on a commercial airline and overheard by NBC News.
Atlas is a Trump appointee in charge of the federal coronavirus task force. It’s an ongoing failure, obviously.
What could we do, though? Redfield has an optimistic prescription.
Redfield testified before Congress this month that he suspects that a face covering could protect him from Covid-19 better than any future vaccine. Most public health officials share the view that masks are essential to stop the spread of the virus. Still, Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on how useful wearing them may be.
“If every one of us did it, this pandemic would be over in eight to 12 weeks,” Redfield said before offering a stark warning that contradicted the president’s assertion that the country is “rounding the corner” on the pandemic.
I don’t know about the specific timeline, but facemasks do reduce the rate of infection, and would definitely help. What do we have going on now, though? Paranoia and misinformation, emanating from the very top, that lead to people encouraging people to oppose simple, basic mask use fanatically. One parallel: the way propaganda was used to encourage people to smoke cigarettes, generating all kinds of opposition to regulation and control. Now we’ve got mobs of people opposing basic hygiene and health information.