Dr. Scott Atlas resigned from the White House coronavirus task force on Monday after months of advocating against social distancing policies and disputing the medical consensus around COVID-19. A frequent Fox News guest, Atlas was reportedly a deeply controversial presence even among some other members of the pandemic team.
They may have been breathing private sighs of relief on Monday, but Atlas’ former colleagues at Stanford University went public with their celebration.
“Dr. Scott Atlas’ resignation today is long overdue and underscores the triumph of science and truth over falsehoods and misinformation,” dozens of Stanford faculty, including top infectious disease experts, said in a public statement.
“His actions have undermined and threatened public health even as countless lives have been lost to COVID-19. We will continue to advocate for evidence-based public health policies that are grounded in established science, including the use of proven preventative measures like mask-wearing and social-distancing, and the safe testing and delivery of effective therapies and vaccines.”
Atlas, a favorite of President Donald Trump who falsely claimed that masks do not work, became synonymous with Trump’s neglectful response to the pandemic after the president named him to the coronavirus task force in August. As COVID-19 cases and deaths surged in the United States, Atlas advocated for a less restrictive government response ― an approach that appealed to the desire of Trump and other Republicans to downplay the virus and lift lockdown measures.
Like many Trump picks, Atlas caught the president’s attention with his numerous hard-charging spots on conservative media. During his Fox News appearances in the early months of the pandemic, he pushed a consistent message that the government should ignore public health experts in favor of policies that usually required doing less and reopening more. In a typical appearance on Tucker...