Trump COVID-19 adviser Scott Atlas resigns from White House job

Dr. Scott Atlas, a science adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump who was skeptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, is leaving his White House post.

A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment.

Atlas confirmed the news in a letter to Trump dated Dec. 1 that he posted on Twitter.

In his letter, Atlas listed what he considered accomplishments in reopening schools and expanding virus testing while also defending himself against his many critics.

“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 good,” he wrote.

Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 267,000 people in the U.S. Atlas has been sharply criticized by public health experts, including Fauci, for providing Trump with misleading or incorrect information on the pandemic.

Atlas has broken with government experts and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community to criticize efforts to encourage face covering to slow the spread of the virus. Just weeks ago on Twitter he responded to Michigan’s latest virus restrictions by encouraging people to “rise up” against the state’s policies.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Atlas’s call “incredibly reckless.” “We really all need to be focused on the public health crisis that is ravaging our country and that poses a very real threat to every one of us,” the Democratic governor said.

Atlas later tweeted that he “NEVER” would endorse or incite violence. Fourteen men have been charged in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer.

His views also prompted Stanford to issue a statement distancing itself from the faculty member, saying Atlas “has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic.”

“We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing,” the university said Nov. 16. “We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”

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