Asked about tension between members of the United States Coronavirus Task Force, Adm. Brett Giroir told CNN’s Erin Burnett there’s honest debate about some matters.
“All the scientists and doctors on the task force, we do work together. We agree on the great majority of things. But whether it's Dr. (Scott) Atlas and Dr. (Deborah) Birx, or me and Dr. (Anthony) Fauci or Dr. (Robert) Redfield -- there is some disagreement,” said Giroir, the so-called testing czar on the task force.
Tensions have built up between the task force’s newest member, Atlas, a neuroradiologist without a background in infectious disease or public health, and some of the other members since he joined the group in August. Atlas espouses many of President Donald Trump’s unscientific views regarding the coronavirus, including a reluctance to enforce mask use.
On Monday, Fauci, another task force member, said he sometimes felt that Trump receives misleading information from one of the other task force members who is out of step with everyone else. He did not name Atlas but told CNN: “I think you know who the outlier is.”
And Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Redfield, another task force member, was overheard on a flight saying “Everything he says is false,” also apparently talking about Atlas.
“There's a diversity of opinions. I think that's very important because science is not black and white,” Giroir told CNN. “Things are not 100% or zero percent -- there's often shades of gray, and it's very important that we have an open and honest debate. The Vice President uses a phrase all the time: iron sharpens iron. And we have a lot of iron getting sharpened there and I think that's a very good thing.
But apparently the issue of mask use is clear cut. “Wearing a mask … is one of the most important public health measures that you can do. You need to wear a mask when you can't physically distance, because it will protect others from getting infected from you. And it does provide a degree of protection to yourself,” Giroir said.