By Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Twitter on Sunday removed a “misleading” tweet downplaying the effectiveness of masks posted by a top coronavirus adviser to President Donald Trump, while cases in the United States spiked ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
As the Trump administration defends itself against allegations that its conflicting messages about wearing masks hindered the fight against the coronavirus, Dr. Scott Atlas continued to downplay the importance of masks with a post on Twitter on Saturday, saying: ” The masks work? NO “.
Twitter Inc (NYSE 🙂 deleted the tweet on Sunday, saying it violated its misleading information policy on COVID-19, which points to statements that have been confirmed as false or misleading by experts in the field.
The White House had no immediate comment on the decision.
Atlas (NYSE 🙂 has downplayed the use of masks, a coronavirus containment measure that has been widely endorsed by health experts but not enthusiastically promoted by the president.
Trump, a Republican, seeks re-election Nov. 3 against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden amid a pandemic that has weakened the economy and killed more than 217,000 Americans.
New infections have risen rapidly in the United States, according to a Reuters analysis, with more than 69,400 reported on Friday, up from 46,000 a month ago. The total number of cases in the United States has exceeded 8 million.
Trump, who was hospitalized with the disease for three nights in early October, has been cruising the country in a flurry of 11-hour campaigns, lagging behind in many public opinion polls. Their rallies draw thousands of supporters in tight spaces, and many do not wear masks despite federal guidelines on the coronavirus.
Despite data showing otherwise, Trump has repeatedly said in recent weeks that the country is “turning around” the coronavirus.
On Sunday, Trump again attributed the latest increase in coronavirus cases to more tests, but health experts cite increases in hospitalizations and the rates at which people test positive for the virus to show cases are actually increasing.
“The United States shows more CASES than other countries, which Lamestream Fake News Media launches on a daily basis, because it PROVES at such a high (and expensive) level,” he wrote on Twitter.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said the United States is likely entering the worst phase of the pandemic without a national strategy.
“I think the next three months are going to be very challenging. There really is no backing against the spread that we are seeing,” Gottlieb told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Hospitalizations were increasing in 42 states and there is no intervention other than a vaccine that can thwart the spread, he said. The White House has spoken out against universal masking, against testing asymptomatic people with mild symptoms and wants businesses and schools to reopen, he said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urged Americans to continue social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands. “Hang with us,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” adding, “We’re so close.”
However, Gottlieb, who sits on the board of vaccine maker Pfizer Inc (NYSE :), said it may not be until February or March until the first batch of vaccinated people are truly protected against the virus.
“So the question arises, ‘what is the strategy?'” He said. “And I think the strategy is just to endure the spread until we get to that vaccine.”