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Twitter blocks ‘misleading' tweet from Trump COVID-19 adviser as US cases spike

Personnel administer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, as cases spread in the Midwest, October 2, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Twitter has blocked a “misleading” tweet from President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus adviser, who undermined the importance of face masks amid widening virus crisis in the US ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Scott Atlas, a White House coronavirus task force member, wrote in a tweet posted Saturday, “Masks work? NO,” and said widespread use of masks is not supported.

Twitter Inc removed the tweet on Sunday, saying it violated its policy that prohibits sharing false or misleading misinformation about COVID-19 that could lead to harm.

“I don’t understand why the tweets were deleted,” Atlas said, noting that his tweet was intended to show that “general population masks and mask mandates do not work.”

His tweet, which comes as coronavirus cases spike rapidly across the US, also linked to an article in the American Institute for Economic Research that argues against the efficacy of wearing of masks, a COVID-19 containment measure that has been widely endorsed by health experts, but not promoted by President Trump.

Atlas’ tweet echoes Trump's misleading claims about masks even as US virus cases have surged rapidly ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

A federal official has said that CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield is concerned that Atlas is providing Trump with misleading information about Covid-19, CNN says.

Last week, Trump again claimed falsely that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had found that 85% of people who wear masks catch the virus, a suggestion challenged by the experts.

Trump has on many occasions downplayed the importance of masks in reducing the spread of the coronavirus, even after he contracted the disease, which has killed more than 219,000 Americans.

The US president, who was hospitalized with the disease for three nights in early October, has been criss-crossing the country for campaigning as he trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden in public opinion polls. Trump’s rallies draw thousands of supporters in close quarters, with many not wearing masks despite federal coronavirus guidelines.

Virus cases spike across US

New COVID-19 infections have been rising fast in the United States, with a total of 48,210 new cases reported on Sunday. The country had reported more than 69,400 new virus cases on Friday, up from 46,000 a month ago.

At least 8,154,594 coronavirus cases have been identified in the US as of Sunday night, killing at least 219,674 Americans, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Ten US states, including Colorado, New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin, reported their highest single-day tallies of new Covid-19 infections, as experts say a dangerous fall surge of COVID-19 infections is underway in the United States.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said the United States is probably entering the worst phase of the pandemic without a national strategy.

Hospitalizations were rising in 42 states and there is no intervention short of a vaccine that can thwart the spread, Gottlieb said.

The White House has come out against universal masking, against testing asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic people and wants businesses and schools reopened, he added.

Despite the experts’ stark warnings, Trump has said repeatedly in recent weeks that the country is “rounding the turn” on coronavirus.

Biden criticized Trump for the claim, saying that the rate of new virus cases across the US had risen to the highest level in months.

“As my grandfather would say: ‘This guy’s gone around the bend if he thinks we’ve turned the corner,’” Biden said. “Things are getting worse, and he (Trump) continues to lie to us about circumstances.”


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