Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no background in epidemiology or infectious diseases, suggested Monday on Fox News that senior family members should be invited to Thanksgiving gatherings ― despite being at higher risk of severe infection or death from the virus amid a nationwide surge in cases ― because it might be their last time.
“This kind of isolation is one of the unspoken tragedies of the elderly, who are now being told ‘Don’t see your family at Thanksgiving,’” said Atlas, who has faced backlash for his controversial views since joining Trump’s White House coronavirus task force in August.
“For many people, this is their final Thanksgiving, believe it or not,” he added.
“The View” moderator Whoopi Goldberg and co-hosts Sunny Hostin, Sara Haines and Joy Behar unanimously condemned Atlas’s comments.
Goldberg posed a question for Atlas: “Which of your elderly family members are you willing to sacrifice just to see if you’re right?”
“Well, you might be ensuring it’s their last Thanksgiving, and other people’s, if you continue to expose people to this,” Haines said.
Haines noted that for military families, skipping holidays and major life events was a regular occurrence.
“We can all do our part now and not celebrate Thanksgiving together. Do it remotely. Do it by Zoom. Consider it your duty to this country right now to stay at home. Nobody’s telling you you can’t have turkey,” she said.
Behar, 78, had the strongest rebuke: “As the unofficial spokesperson for the Social Security crowd, let me say to Dr. Atlas, this is not my last Thanksgiving, you embarrassing quack.”
“Don’t listen to a radiologist when it comes to a virus, please,” Behar added.
Atlas’s views have been widely criticized by members of the scientific community. He has discounted the effectiveness of many of the protocols issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stem the pandemic, including the use of face coverings.
Just a day before this controversy, he prompted another outcry when he urged Michiganders to “rise up” against new COVID-19 safety restrictions imposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Atlas was a senior fellow at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institution before taking on his White House role. Stanford released a statement Sunday saying Atlas “expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic.”
“Stanford’s position on managing the pandemic in our community is clear. We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing. We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities,” the statement said.