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Fauci distances himself from Trump adviser Atlas: 'I totally disagree with the stand he takes'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciCOVID-19 is a precursor for infectious disease outbreaks on a warming planet Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Fauci: Approval of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines likely 'weeks away' MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, once again distanced himself from a doctor advising the president on COVID-19, saying he “totally disagrees” with Scott Atlas.

Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no training in infectious diseases, has taken to Twitter in recent days to rail against closures of some businesses and high schools in Michigan in response to COVID-19.

“I don't want to say anything against Dr. Atlas as a person, but I totally disagree with the stand he takes. I just do, period,” Fauci said Monday on NBC's "Today."

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Atlas has repeatedly criticized closures and restrictions that are aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, arguing they are harmful for the economy and mental health.

He has become a favored adviser of Trump because of their similar views on the COVID-19 response. While Fauci has warned of the danger of rising case numbers across the U.S. and urged mask-wearing and social distancing, Atlas has argued that young and healthy people should be allowed to resume their lives as normal because they are less likely to become seriously ill if they get COVID-19.

As the U.S. enters the worst stage of the pandemic thus far, with about 150,000 new cases confirmed per day, governors and local leaders have instituted new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread and keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients. 

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In Michigan, where 6,700 cases are being confirmed every day, Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerBiden taps Atlanta mayor for senior DNC role Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings Minnesota governor to deploy National Guard to protect state capitol ahead of inauguration MORE (D) has announced a three week “epidemic order,” halting in-person learning at high schools and colleges, indoor dining at restaurants, organized sports, theaters, casinos and group fitness classes.

Atlas criticized the restrictions Sunday, tweeting, “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept.” 

However, the restrictions are much less severe than the ones issued in the spring, when several states including Michigan were issuing stay-at-home orders. 

Public health experts and officials have acknowledged the negative effects of broad shutdowns and have argued for more narrow and targeted restrictions as the U.S. faces a third wave of COVID-19 cases. 

In Michigan, elementary and middle schools will remain open, as will child care, hair salons, gyms and pools, outdoor dining, parks, funerals and manufacturing and construction jobs.