Dr. Scott Atlas, who was chosen to be Donald Trump’s “special adviser” on the Coronavirus despite not being an infectious disease specialist, is resigning from his position with just seven weeks left in the Trump administration, according to late-breaking reports Monday evening. Atlas submitted his resignation in writing, saying that he was on a 130-day detail set to expire this week, and is leaving Tuesday.
Atlas, a neuroradiologist, was on leave from the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank affiliated with Stanford University, and has no background in infectious diseases. Trump had invited him to join the task force in August after seeing him on Fox News. Like Trump, Atlas has downplayed the virus’ seriousness, questioning the efficacy of masks and urging the White House to embrace a strategy of “herd immunity.”
Aside from his lack of training in communicable diseases, Atlas made controversial statements about the spread of the virus, often attempting to discredit the more experienced and knowledgeable Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has decades of specializing in epidemiology under his belt. Atlas avoided meetings with both Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, often appearing on TV to spread misinformation regarding the virus and a potential vaccine.
Atlas had called for citizens to “rise up” against stay-home measures and mask mandates despite cases rising exponentially during his brief tenure at the White House. Atlas also made unverified claims that his views were embraced by top epidemiologists at prominent universities. His former employer Stanford University called his comments “inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic” and said they reflected Atlas’ personal views. Days later, Stanford faculty passed a resolution condemning his “disdain for established medical knowledge.”
In his resignation letter, Atlas said that he’s recommended social distancing and mask-wearing and wished “all the best” to the incoming administration — making him one of the few Trump staffers to explicitly acknowledge the transition of power.
During the four and a half months Scott Atlas held the title of “special adviser to Donald Trump”, an estimated 108,000 Americans died of the Coronavirus. Twitter certainly let him know how they felt about his imminent departure.
Covid raged. Atlas shrugged.
— Frazzledrip (@TockTick5167AD) December 1, 2020