Scott Atlas Battles Devil’s Advocate Sandra Smith on Why Schools Must Open

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RUSH: Raging argument in America over whether or not to send our kids back to school. Do you realize how ridiculous this is? We have never, even during the Spanish flu pandemic, we have never done what we are doing now, and we have certainly never been governed by fear. And we now have an entire political party that wants this country shut down as much as it can be — economically, educationally, you name it. It is obscene.

And they are doing this for one reason — they can’t find a way to either defeat or get rid of Donald Trump. And so your kids and you and your job and this economy are going to be made to pay the price for you voting for the guy and for you continuing to support him.

It’s like Trump comes along, has a slogan, Make America Great Again. That is controversial? Sending our kids back to school is controversial when all of the data suggests it might be the safest place for them. There are studies like this from all over the world. A German study finds no evidence coronavirus spreads in schools. The largest study carried out on schoolchildren and teachers in Germany found traces of the virus in fewer than 1% of students and teachers.

“Scientists from Dresden Technical University said children may act as a brake on the chain of infection.” Professor Reinhard Berner, the head of pediatric medicine at Dresden University Hospital, the leader of the study, said the results suggested the virus does not spread easily in schools. He said it’s rather the opposite in a press conference. “Children act more as a brake on infection. Not every infection that reaches them is passed on.” This means the majority of school children do not get infected themselves, despite an infection in the household.

As I say, this German study is just one of countless studies. So today on Fox Scott Atlas, Hoover Institute senior fellow. He’s brilliant. He is conservative. He is fearless. He is a scholar. He is a literal, genuine expert on this data, the COVID-19 data and sending kids back to school. He’s actually becoming omnipresent out there. He’s showing up in a lot of places because he’s irrefutable. You can play devil’s advocate with him all day long and you will not get him to change his mind, you will not intimidate him because he’s got the facts on his side.

So he appeared today with Sandra Smith who did a good job of playing devil’s advocate with him. And you could tell that in some of the stuff that she was saying she wasn’t quite sure that this guy had it all together, which makes these sound bites even better. So here we have Sandra Smith leading off with Scott Atlas on the whole idea of sending kids back to school.

SMITH: To be clear, while you are saying how important it is to get kids back into school and do so safely, you are encouraging that CDC guidance be followed, that there’s mask wearing, social distancing, and all of the precautions that they’re recommending?

ATLAS: Not for children. That would be irrational. It doesn’t matter if children get the disease. They don’t get sick from this. And the data shows that they do not significantly transmit to adults. And this is data.

SMITH: Isn’t it the point to stop the spread – and, sorry, don’t mean to cut you off. But, I mean, the science shows that mask wearing stops the spread of the disease. And don’t we have a collective duty in this country to stop the spread?

ATLAS: You either believe in the science or you say you believe in the science and act contrary to science. The science says — and this is data from Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, the U.K., Australia, Canada, Ireland, everywhere in the world, Germany, everywhere in the western world has shown that children do not transmit significantly to adults, even their own parents, and that teachers are not at higher risk of getting a disease like this disease from children. You either believe the science or not. You can’t insist you believe in the science and then act contrary to science. And, by the way, like I said, we are the only country not opening schools. This is absurd.

RUSH: All of that is irrefutable. We’re the only country in the western world not opening the schools. Why is that? It’s November 3rd. It’s Donald Trump. It’s the fact that your Democrat Party can’t come up with a way of getting rid of him. They’re not even confident they can beat him in an election. So you’re gonna pay the price. But you notice back early in the bite she said, “But, but, but wait. Isn’t the point to stop the spread? I’m sorry, don’t mean to cut you off, but, I mean, the science shows that mask wearing stops -”

Do you know that if you’re healthy, that if you don’t have the virus and you’re not in a high risk group, wearing the mask may not be the smartest thing you could do? The mask may trap other things that you need to get out of your body as you exhale. But the mask is not universally mandated for everybody. And this, of course, is also related to science.

But he’s as clear as a bell as he can be. You either believe in the science or you say you believe in it and then you don’t contact on it. And he cites all of these western civilization countries where they have done the research and they have found that kids don’t spread the disease, that teachers are not getting the disease in significant numbers at all. It’s infinitesimal. Kids are not even spreading the disease to their own parents.

And he’s frustrated here because the science is what it is. And people who claim that they believe the science still want to act outside the parameters of science. “Isn’t the point to stop the spread?” Is that the point? Can we stop the spread? That’s another question. But is it safe to send kids back to school? Yeah.

Now, next bite, Sandra Smith continues to play devil’s advocate — and I’m glad she did because she drew him out. She refused to accept, continue to play devil’s advocate, continued to challenge what he was saying, and this is how it sounded.

ATLAS: I believe that there is zero reason — in fact, zero excuse —

RUSH: Wait a minute, wait, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, who. Stop it. Put it back to the top. I thought her question was on the bite. It’s not. The question she asked him, is, “The president says that politics is at play in keeping children from home. Do you believe that?”

ATLAS: I believe that there is zero reason, in fact, zero excuse to not have the schools open in person. The Hospital for Sick kids [Children] in Toronto, one of the world’s best hospitals, just delineated this. Schools must be in person, no masks, no spacing, because children are not at risk. If you believe that there should be some kind of restriction on schools —

SMITH: Okay.

ATLAS: — you’re not talking about children.

SMITH: It’s a fascinating conversation. I don’t mean to cut you off but there’s so many things to talk about there. There are kids who fall into the high risk category. There are kids with asthma. How do you protect them?

ATLAS: Well, of course. There is a small minority of children that are at high risk, and those kids need to be protected. That’s always true. Seasonal influenza is more risky for children, more than COVID-19. Seasonal influenza is transmitted from children to the high risk adults who are teachers every year. Seasonal influenza in California, the percent of deaths in children was 5.4%. Zero kids have died from COVID-19. If teachers think that they can’t work during this, then they absolutely must say that we have to close schools from November through April.

RUSH: Again, I think this contains routine profundities. So she brings up, well, what about kids with asthma? Well, of course there’s always gonna be exceptions to everything. And you adapt and you accounted for them, but you don’t take the 1 percent of kids with asthma and say no kids can go back to school, which is how we’re dealing with this. If there’s one imperfection, if there’s 1% of imperfection, we gotta shut everything down for everybody here. Because we can’t live with the risk, which is cockeyed.

Life is a risk. You adapt. Everything is a risk. We’re trying to set up some-risk-free culture in the middle of a pandemic? It isn’t possible. “But, Rush, but, Rush, it remains a lofty goal.” No, it doesn’t. It’s not realistic. And we are paralyzing ourselves. We’re punishing ourselves with these irrational demands. “Seasonal influenza more risky for children than COVID-19. Zero kids have died from COVID-19.” And yet we can’t reopen the schools. It’s Trump not caring whether kids live or die.

See, this is another thing. Whenever the children end up being involved, the Democrats think they own it because Republicans starve kids, don’t care about kids, all this other happy malarkey. So we got two more bites here, and in this bite they play a clip from Redfield where Sandra Smith asks Scott Atlas, who is the guest here from the Hoover Institute, to react to it.

SMITH: What we don’t know is how this is gonna interact with the flu season, and that’s what Dr. Redfield is warning. Listen to him and I’ll get your thoughts on the other side. Listen.

REDFIELD: I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are gonna be probably one of the most difficult times that we’ve experienced in American public health because of what you said, the co-occurrence of COVID and influenza.

SMITH: So, Dr. Atlas, how do you respond to that? We don’t know what an entire flu season looks like combined with COVID-19. There’s so much that we still don’t know about this disease and the spread of the disease. Doesn’t that concern you putting all these kids back into the classroom together?

ATLAS: I find it bizarre. We don’t know everything about any single disease. We know a massive amount. It is proven that children have no significant risk. It is proven that influenza is worse than this for children. It is proven that children don’t transmit significantly to adults. That’s proven. Why do we keep saying, but we don’t know X?

RUSH: Great question. We don’t know. We do know. We’re just in denial. But he’s exactly right about the flu. The flu sends hundreds of thousands of people to the hospital. It sends tens of thousands of people to the grave every year. And there’s no such thing as anything like this fear about it.

Now, I realize that there have been years and years and years of the flu doing what it does. We’ve had time to adjust to it. We also think we have flu vaccines. And we don’t. You go out and get a flu shot, but you don’t have a vaccine. I mean, there’s nothing that you can do to guarantee you’re not gonna get the flu. That’s what a vaccine does. We have a polio vaccine. And we have some other vaccines. But vaccines for viruses are routinely rare, I mean, it’s very difficult to come up with them.

But we know that the flu kills a lot of people. And we still keep the schools open. And we know that kids who get the flu can infect anybody and that teachers who get the flu can infect anybody. And we also know that kids do not pass on COVID-19. They barely get it themselves. And yet we are willing to open the schools when the ravages of the flu hit. But we cannot open the schools during COVID-19 because we don’t know — This is not who we are. And I say that in the context of we are not a nation of people afraid to take risks. We are not a nation of people that lives in constant fear, unnecessarily. But that is exactly what’s happening.

As I said yesterday, it’s almost generation-wide among Millennials. Of course, there are exceptions, but it’s almost allowing people to stop living their lives. It’s allowing people to have an excuse for not amounting to anything. It’s allowing people an excuse not to have to work or work hard because the virus has made us all victims. And when you achieve victim status, A, the Democrat Party loves you because you are essentially saying that you are powerless, you can’t do anything, you cannot overcome it, you can’t do it yourself.

When you are a victim, nothing is your fault. When you’re a victim, you don’t have to do anything because you can’t succeed. Nobody expects you to. When you’re a victim, the deck is so stacked against you that you have a built-in reason to live your life in perpetual fear. And this is what’s happening generation-wide. One more sound bite. She, in this bite literally — well, not literally, but she really says, would you please listen more closely to Dr. Fauci.

SMITH: We’re at the mercy of the medical experts that are obviously advising the president, advising the top levels of our government on all of this, Dr. Atlas. Dr. Anthony Fauci is being taken on by the president’s own economic adviser in this new piece published in USA Today. Are you saying that Dr. Fauci’s advice, are you disregarding what we’re hearing from those top medical experts advising the president?

SMITH: I’m saying look at the science. I’m saying use critical thinking and logic. Certain things are known. If you don’t believe in the science, then stop saying you believe in the science. The science says open the schools. The science says there’s no risk to children. The science says teachers are not at risk if they go to school. Listen. Either schools are an essential business in this country or they’re not. I don’t understand why people don’t take into account the severe harms of not having schools. Isn’t that what public policy is all about, to weigh what you’re doing, not just stopping COVID-19 at all costs? If we start acting out of fear and are an outlier in this country, this country’s finished.

RUSH: Yeah, sadly, we’re close to that.

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