Hoover Institution Doctor: Spike In Virus In Southwest From Protests, Families Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border

Speaking on “Fox Report Weekend,” Dr. Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at The Hoover Institution and professor and Chief of Neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center from 1998 until 2012, surmised that the spike in coronavirus cases around the southwestern United States  could be attributed to two factors: crowds of protesters and people traveling back and forth across the U.S. Mexico border:

Atlas propounded:

The unwritten sort of story here is also why are all these cases exploding, particularly in the border counties? When you look in the southern counties of California, Arizona and the bordering counties of Texas — with the Mexico border — these are where most of these cases are really exploding. And then you look at the Mexico map and in Mexico, that’s where their cases are. Their cases are in the northern border zone states. And it turns out the timeline here correlates much more to the Mexico timeline of increasing cases than anything else.

He continued, “When you really look closely at these so-called re-opening policies, whether it’s in Georgia or Florida or Texas, you know, we didn’t really see a big correlation of cases and hospitalizations from that. That’s really not true. That’s sort of some sloppy thinking, I think, again. We really have to look closely at why these things are happening.”

Atlas pointed to the enormous surge in coronavirus cases in California, where the lockdown that was implemented was more severe than many states and yet Los Angeles County experienced a massive surge. Atlas noted, “By the way, California didn’t really reopen. Yet they have cases coming up. Why is that? I mean, that’s because these cases don’t really correlate to that. They correlate mainly to two things — the big thousands and thousands of people with protesting, sharing megaphones, screaming. That’s a setup to spread cases. And also when you look at the analyses of the border counties, there’s a tremendous amount of cases coming over the border and exchanging with families in the northern Mexico states.”

Healthline had a differing perspective on whether the protests caused spikes in the coronavirus: “A paper looking at virus data from protests between May 26 and June 20, found ‘no evidence that urban protests reignited COVID-19 case growth during the more than three weeks following protest onset.’ ‘We conclude that predictions of broad negative public health consequences of Black Lives Matter protests were far too narrowly conceived,’ the authors of the National Bureau of Economic Research paper wrote.”

Atlas pointed out that the numbers coming in from southern states could be deceptive, asserting, “If you look more than just superficially at the number, when you look at Texas, and in their overcrowded situation, where they really have about 85-90% hospitals occupied, only 10-20% of the patients are COVID patients. When you look at Arizona, where they do have isolated hospitals that are having problems and when you look at the numbers, it’s really about 60% of the COVID-hospitalized patients don’t have symptoms from COVID- they’re COVID positive. That’s from their own website. When you look at Florida, we know a significant percentage also have COVID-positive testing, but not COVID.”

His advice? “So the real concern that that I see right now is that there are hospitals getting crowded in their ICUs and this is clearly a concern. The crowding is from the reinstatement of regular medical care, which is actually very important. We have locked that down before and that policy kills people. So we don’t want to go back to that. The solution to this is really protect the high risk in a more diligent way than we are, the very highest-risk group. We have been very, very clear about that to people. The second part is increase the hospital capacity.”

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