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Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s controversial special adviser on the coronavirus pandemic, resigned from his post on Monday.
Atlas’s resignation comes as his role was set to expire this week — as a Special Government Employee, his 130-day window to serve ends this week after he took the post in August.
In his resignation letter, which he shared in a tweet on Monday, he wrote that he had “worked hard with a singular focus—to save lives and help Americans through this pandemic.”
He added that he “always relied on the latest science and evidence, without any political consideration or influence.”
— Scott W. Atlas (@ScottWAtlas) December 1, 2020
“As time went on, like all scientists and health policy scholars, I learned new information and synthesized the latest data from around the world, all in an effort to provide you with the best information to serve the greater public good,” Atlas wrote. “But, perhaps more than anything, my 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.”
Atlas, who clashed with other members of the coronavirus task force over his calls for reopening and for saying that lockdowns are “extremely harmful” to Americans, said that “although some may disagree with those recommendations, it is the free exchange of ideas that lead to scientific truths, which are the very foundation of a civilized society.”
“Indeed, I cannot think of a time where safeguarding science and the scientific debate is more urgent,” Atlas said.
Atlas wrote that the task force “identified and illuminated early on the harms of prolonged lockdowns, including that they create massive physical health losses and psychological distress, destroy families and damage our children.”
“And more and more, the relatively low risk to children of serious harms from the infection, the less frequent spread from children, the presence of immunologic protection beyond that shown by antibody testing, and the severe harms from closing schools and society are all being acknowledged,” Atlas added.
Atlas has voiced, at times, contentious views on the virus, including in October when Twitter removed his tweet that claimed face masks did not work. The platform said the tweet violated its COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy.
Earlier this month he encouraged residents in Michigan to “rise up” against coronavirus restrictions in the state, weeks after officials foiled an alleged plot to kidnap the state’s Democratic Governor, Gretchen Whitmer.
Stanford University, where Atlas is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, worked to distance itself from the doctor following his comments.
A number of Stanford faculty members said Monday that Atlas’s resignation is “long overdue and 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.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield reportedly criticized Atlas over the summer, saying “everything he says is false.”
Atlas pushed back then, defending his advice as based on the “current science.”
“I was asked to be an adviser on the coronavirus pandemic to the president of the United States and I was asked to do that because I have a 25-year career at top, elite medical centers, as a doctor and in patient care,” Atlas told Fox News. “I also have a 15-year career in public policy, working on health care policy and integrating my medical knowledge in policy.”
“The way I advise the president is perfectly consistent with the most appropriate strategy for dealing with this pandemic,” he said. “One, target diligent protection of the high risk and vulnerable populations, and two, open up schools and society.”