Whitmer: Atlas' call for Michiganders to 'rise up' against Covid restrictions 'took my breath away'

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday that she was stunned by a call from one of President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus advisers for people in her state to “rise up” against new restrictions aimed at slowing the disease’s deadly surge.

“It actually took my breath away, to tell you the truth,” Whitmer told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” referring to a tweet posted over the weekend by Dr. Scott Atlas, a White House coronavirus task force member whose skepticism toward Covid-mitigation strategies has been the subject of widespread criticism.

After Whitmer announced Sunday a three-week pause on indoor dining, in-person learning and several other activities, Atlas wrote: “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.”

In another tweet later Sunday night, Atlas wrote that he “NEVER was talking at all about violence. People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!!”

Atlas, a physician with no expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology, has won favor in the White House in recent months by advocating against coronavirus restrictions and downplaying the disease’s threat. Atlas has publicly attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, accusing him of stoking concern about the ongoing pandemic for political purposes ahead of the presidential election earlier this month.

Whitmer, a Democrat who recently was the target of a foiled kidnapping plot, has come under repeated attack by the White House for her public health measures throughout the pandemic — with Trump invoking her personally at campaign rallies and his supporters calling for her imprisonment.

Michigan and Washington are the two latest states to issue new coronavirus restrictions as caseloads continue to soar across all parts of the country. The most recent record of daily cases was last Friday, when the U.S. notched more than 177,000 new infections.

Over the weekend, the U.S. surpassed 11 million Covid-19 cases in total, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and more than 246,000 Americans have died thus far from the disease.

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