KEY POINTS

  • CDC Director Robert Redfield was heard criticizing Dr. Scott Atlas, the newest member of Trump's COVID task force
  • The CDC said Redfield's comments were only half of what was a private conversation with another colleague
  • Atlas is a radiologist who joined the task force in August and critics said he was chosen to give Trump a supporting voice to counter Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx

A new report on Monday said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield was overheard criticizing the newest member of President Donald Trump’s COVID taskforce, Dr. Scott Atlas.

As of Monday, the U.S. has over 7.14 million confirmed cases and over 205,000 reported deaths from the pandemic.

NBC News said the call took place on Friday between Redfield and another colleague, who has not been identified, to discuss Atlas joining the task force. Redfield was heard saying he was concerned about what Atlas joining the team could mean for the pandemic and how the U.S. government addressed it going forward.

“Everything he says is false,” Redfield said on the call during a flight from Atlanta to Washington D.C.

The CDC responded to the reported comments, saying witnesses only heard one part of a private conversation.

“NBC News is reporting one side of a private phone conversation by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield that was overheard on a plane from Atlanta Hartsfield airport,” the CDC said in a press release. “Dr. Redfield was having a private discussion regarding a number of points he has made publicly about Covid-19.”

Atlas joined the  team, led by Vice President Mike Pence,  in August, despite being a radiologist with no experience in public health or infectious disease. Some critics said Atlas’ appointment was likely meant to counter Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx and give Trump another supporting voice on the team.

One issue championed by Atlas is herd immunity, which Trump has promoted as one of the best ways of combating the coronavirus pandemic.

“These people getting the infection is not really a problem, and in fact, as we said months ago, when you isolate everyone, including all the healthy people, you're prolonging the problem because you’re preventing population immunity,” Atlas told Fox News in July. “Low-risk groups getting the infection is not a problem. In fact, it's a positive.”

Despite the comments, Atlas afterward denied promoting trying to build herd immunity.

Fauci has repeatedly argued against this line of thinking because of the potential death toll.

“If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms, a lot of people are going to die,” Fauci said during an Instagram Live conversation with Matthew McConaughey in August.

CDC Director Robert Redfield attends a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing reviewing coronavirus response efforts on September 16, 2020 CDC Director Robert Redfield attends a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing reviewing coronavirus response efforts on September 16, 2020 Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / POOL