The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was overheard blasting Scott Atlas, a new member of the White House coronavirus task force who appears to have the ear of President Trump, according to a report by NBC.
“Everything he says is false,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said during a phone call on a flight that was overheard by a journalist working for NBC News.
After the flight, Redfield was was approached by NBC News and confirmed he was speaking about Atlas.
Atlas, a Stanford neuroradiologist, was brought on the task force in August.
He has come under criticism for a push to reopen schools and some skepticism about the science of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“There’s no sound science that shows that you should have all populations wear a mask in all circumstances,” Atlas said on CNN earlier this month.
He has also called for putting an emphasis on protecting the elderly and others especially at risk from the coronavirus while lessening restrictions for others, an approach criticized by other health experts.
When asked by NBC News about Redfield’s comments, Atlas responded: “Everything I have said is directly from the data and the science. It echoes what is said by many of the top medical scientists in the world, including those at Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford.”
On more than one occasion since the pandemic began, Trump has broken publicly with Redfield, who weeks ago reiterated how important mask wearing is when it comes to slowing the spread of the virus.
“These face masks are the most important and powerful public health tool we have,” Redfield said. “And I will continue to appeal to all individuals in this country to embrace these face coverings. If we did it eight, 10, 12 weeks, we’d bring this pandemic under control. We have clear scientific evidence they work and they are our best defense.”
More than 200,000 people in the United States have died since the pandemic began in earlier this year.