Nov 30, 2020 - Health

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo of Scott Atlas pointing to his watch

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.

The big picture: As a special government employee, Atlas was set to serve a 130-day period that expires this week. The administration's attention on Operation Warp Speed, which is outside of Atlas’ remit, has also reduced his role.

  • Since he joined the task force in August, Atlas has aligned himself with Trump in downplaying the impact of COVID-19. Trump touted Atlas’ guidance to justify his anti-lockdown stance.
  • But Atlas faced backlash for dismissing schools’ concerns about reopening as “hysteria.” He also pushed to resume college sports activities.
  • Atlas has not attended coronavirus task force meetings in recent weeks.

What they're saying: CDC director Robert Redfield has criticized Atlas repeatedly and told a colleague "everything he says is false."

  • In October, Twitter removed a tweet from Atlas that belittled the importance of face masks, per CNN.
  • Atlas maintained his position on Fox News later on Monday, telling Tucker Carlson the U.S. needs to resume in-person schooling “ASAP," and that science has been politicized.
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