Dr. Scott Atlas, an adviser to the President on the coronavirus, resigned from his post at the White House on Monday.
The news comes as medical facilities cross the nation are hit by record high hospitalizations for COVID-19 — reaching more than 96,000 on Monday according to the Washington Post’s data tracker.
As a special government employee who began formally advising President Donald Trump on the COVID-19 pandemic in August, Atlas had been expected to serve a limited term that was coming to a close this week. Fox News was the first to report Atlas’ resignation.
“I worked hard with a singular focus — to save lives and help Americans through this pandemic,” Atlas wrote in a letter that he posted Monday night on Twitter, adding: “I always relied on the latest science and evidence, without any political consideration or influence.”
— Scott W. Atlas (@ScottWAtlas) December 1, 2020
But the COVID-19 adviser, who caught President Trump’s attention over the summer during his Fox News appearances, repeatedly touted President Trump’s politically polarizing and scientifically unsound pandemic response.
Atlas has frequently offered advice that advanced a hands-off approach and that was drastically different from guidance provided by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and respected scientists. Atlas, for example, encouraged an approach that broadly resembled “herd immunity” which would allow for free spread of coronavirus throughout the population without providing much of a plan to protect vulnerable populations at higher risk of dying from the virus.
In October, he suggested that a matter of wide scientific consensus — mask-wearing — is not necessarily effective and has pushed a widely controversial claim also made by Trump that children cannot spread the coronavirus while arguing to open schools.
Yet in his resignation letter on Monday he declared that his “advice was always focused on minimizing all the harms from both the pandemic and the structural policies themselves, especially to the working class and the poor.”
“I sincerely wish the new team all the best as they guide the nation through these trying, polarized times,” Atlas wrote.
The resignation comes weeks after Stanford University and the Hoover Institute where Atlas is a senior fellow, issued a statement that sought to distance the institution and its libertarian-leaning think tank from the radiologist after he criticized measures put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus in Michigan last month. At that time, Atlas urged Michigan residents to “rise up” against the restrictions appearing to echo similar remarks from President Trump in April whose attacks on the Democratic governor have been cited by critics for promoting an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer that was thwarted by federal law enforcement.
A group of Stanford faculty issued a statement obtained by CNN following Atlas’ resignation lauding it as “long overdue” and suggesting that his departure “underscores the triumph of science and truth over falsehoods and misinformation.”
“His actions have undermined and threatened public health even as countless lives have been lost to Covid-19,” they said.