Dr. Scott Atlas, the herd immunity-supporting adviser on the White House coronavirus task force, said Sunday that people in Michigan should fight new coronavirus restrictions issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as the state faces the worst wave of the pandemic so far.
Whitmer issued a new round of restrictions on Sunday: for a minimum of three weeks, bars and restaurants are closed for indoor dining, high schools and colleges are closed for in-person classes, workplaces that have remote capabilities are closed, and gyms and fitness centers are closed for group exercise.
Whitmer announced her decision after Michigan reported more than 44,000 new cases last week, the fifth week in a row that it had set a record in coronavirus cases, according to the Detroit News. More than 8,400 people have died in Michigan since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“A leading model shows that if we don't take aggressive action right now, we could soon see 1,000 deaths per week here in Michigan,” Whitmer said at a Sunday press conference.
Still the restrictions are still more lenient than they were in the initial wave of shutdowns earlier this year. Hair salons and barbershops can remain open, gyms are open for individual exercise, and outdoor gatherings and funerals of up to 25 people are permitted.
On Sunday, Atlas slammed the restrictions anyway. “The only way this stops is if people rise up,” Atlas wrote on Twitter. “You get what you accept.”
Atlas’s comments echoed President Donald Trump’s April tweet during protests in Lansing, when he called on supporters to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
In October, the FBI foiled an alleged kidnapping plot targeting Whitmer by more than a dozen members of a far-right group. Atlas denied that his tweet was encouraging violent resistance to the orders. “Hey. I NEVER was talking at all about violence,” Atlas tweeted. “People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!!”
Responding to Atlas’s comments on Monday, Whitmer said the tweet “actually took my breath away.”
"It’s just incredibly reckless considering everything that has happened,” Whitmer told MSNBC.
Whitmer also said Sunday pressure from the Trump White House would not impact her public health decision-making.
"We know that the White House likes to single us out here in Michigan, me out in particular,” Whitmer told CNN. “I'm not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals.”