Twitter has struck down yet another post from the Trump team for violating its policies on misinformation because, yes, these idiots are still peddling their drivel about how face masks don’t work. Yes, even after President Donald Trump himself contracted covid-19, most likely at a superspreader event on the White House lawn where many attendees who later tested positive mingled without face masks.
And no, I don’t know what it’ll take to convince these people at this point. How many cases, how many bodies... your guess is as good as mine. All I know is that I’m very, very tired.
One of the president’s top covid-19 advisors, Dr. Scott Atlas, posted a tweet on Saturday falsely claiming that face masks don’t actually help prevent the spread of the virus along with a link to an article from the right-leaning think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, that questioned their efficacy. As of Sunday morning, the tweet no longer appears on the site, and in its place is a note saying “This Tweet is no longer available” with a link to the site’s rules. The tweet in question read: “Masks work? NO” followed by a barely coherent and heavily misspelled rant misrepresenting the science behind the effectiveness of masks, per screenshots shared by NBC News and other users on the platform.
Twitter told CNN that Atlas’ tweet, which directly contradicts guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, violated its policy against sharing false or misleading information related to the pandemic that could lead to harm. The platform, like many others, has adopted several new policies to curb the spread of misinformation in the wake of the pandemic, including labeling tweets that reference viral conspiracy theories and slapping warnings on the often misleading or downright false crap the president posts.
It should also be noted that Atlas is both 1) a radiologist, not an epidemiologist; and 2) the same quack who pushed the bogus claim that “herd immunity” for covid-19 could be achieved after just a quarter of the population became infected.
The latter is both an inaccurate and gross mischaracterization of how herd immunity works. Herd immunity—the concept that a population can protect its most vulnerable members by reaching a threshold of acquired immunity either through vaccination or infection—can only help curb the spread of infectious diseases if the vast majority of people become immune. For reference, the World Health Organization puts that percentage at roughly 95% for measles and 80% for polio, significantly higher than the 20-25% threshold Atlas posited.
However, no vaccine for covid-19 currently exists, so there goes that option for the time being. And global health experts, including the CDC, still don’t know enough about the novel coronavirus to completely rule out whether people can become re-infected after their initial positive diagnosis. Many leading health officials, including America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have vehemently denounced any official plan for overcoming the pandemic that relies on herd immunity, such as the one embraced by the White House. Fauci called the approach “ridiculous,” “total nonsense,” and warned it “will lead to hospitalizations and deaths” in an interview with ABC News.
The timing of Atlas’ tweet couldn’t be more appallingly appropriate, as 10 states reported their highest number of new covid-19 cases to date just the day before. Globally, the U.S. has surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases and more than 219,000 deaths, the most in the world on both counts. Meanwhile, other countries where people wore their fucking masks are returning to business as usual for the most part while America looks on track to celebrate the new year with even more cases.