President-elect Joe Biden has responded to one of President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus advisers, who called for Michigan residents to “rise up” against governor Gretchen Whitmer’s new Covid-19 restrictions.
On Sunday, Ms Whitmer announced the introduction of new coronavirus measures for Michigan, which banned indoor dining and in-person learning for three weeks, as part of a “pause to save lives,” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Scott Atlas, who was selected by President Donald Trump in August as an adviser for the White House coronavirus task force, criticised the decision in a tweet on Sunday evening and urged Michigan residents to resist the measures.
“The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp,” he wrote.
Dr Atlas, a physician, does not have a background in infectious diseases, but has gone against the view of a majority of health experts by advocating against coronavirus measures during his time in the White House, according to Politico.
Responding to Dr Atlas’ comments at a press conference on Monday, Mr Biden said: “The idea that the president’s now existing, remaining adviser on Covid is saying that they should resist – what the hell is the matter with these guys?
“What is the matter with them? Resist? Every major individual of any consequence in the health field is saying we can save 100,000 lives just between now and 21 January by wearing these masks.”
Mr Biden added: “We are talking about 350,000 to 400,000 people dying. I mean what are they doing? It’s totally irresponsible. Irresponsible.”
In a follow up tweet on Monday morning before Mr Biden’s press conference, Dr Atlas wrote: “Hey. I NEVER was talking at all about violence. People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!!”
Last month, the FBI arrested 13 men and accused them of planning to kidnap Ms Whitmer before 3 November’s national election and “try” her in Wisconsin.
The group allegedly felt that Ms Whitmer had “uncontrolled power” over coronavirus measures, and had planned “various acts of violence” for their plot.
Ms Whitmer, who has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s response to Covid-19, told CNN on Sunday evening: “We know that the White House likes to single us out here in Michigan, me out in particular.
“I’m not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals.”
During the press conference on Monday, Mr Biden warned that the next few months are going to be difficult for the US, amid a surge of coronavirus cases across the country
“We’re going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier. That requires sparing no effort to fight Covid,” he told reporters.
However, Mr Biden added: “I know we can do this.”
According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 11.1 million people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached at least 246,758.
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