Hoover fellow Scott Atlas resigns as White House coronavirus advisor

Nov. 30, 2020, 7:36 p.m.

Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, resigned from his position as an advisor to the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Monday. Atlas began his post advising the Trump administration in August and was considered a Special Government Employee (SGE), serving a 130-day detail that was set to expire this week.

Atlas has come under repeated fire by both Stanford affiliates and some nationwide for controversial views on the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Around 100 Stanford faculty condemned his views in September, around the time CDC Director Robert Redfield was overheard saying of Atlas, “everything he says is false.” Atlas previously threatened to file a defamation lawsuit against signatories of the September critical open letter that condemned his views on COVID-19.

“I worked hard with a singular focus — to save lives and help Americans through this pandemic,” Atlas wrote in his resignation letter.

Faculty who previously condemned Atlas wrote in a Monday statement, “Dr. Scott Atlas’ resignation today is long overdue,” adding that “his actions have undermined and threatened public health even as countless lives have been lost to COVID-19.”

Asked to comment on if there was pressure for him to resign, Atlas directed The Daily to a Fox News article and provided his letter of resignation. A University spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Daily’s request for comment on the matter.

Atlas’ tumultuous relationship with Stanford led the University to distance itself from his views in November. “Dr. Atlas has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic,” Stanford wrote in a Nov. 16 statement. “Dr. Atlas’s statements reflect his personal views, not those of the Hoover Institution or the university.”

According to Fox News — which first obtained Atlas’ letter of resignation — Atlas touted his work at the White House that “identified and illuminated early on the harms of prolonged lockdown” adding that there is a “false belief” that one “has to be a public health official to understand the facts about the pandemic.”

CNN reported that a source close to the task force said on Monday that Atlas’ departure came as welcome news, as his discredited theories will no longer have a seat at the table. Twitter in October removed one of Atlas’ tweets that claimed incorrectly that masks did not “work” when it came to combatting the coronavirus. Masks are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19, according to public health officials.

Atlas wished the incoming Biden administration “all the best,” saying in his resignation letter, “I remain highly optimistic that America will thrive once again.”

Contact Sam Catania at samcat ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Sam Catania ’24 is the Chief Technology Officer at The Daily. He also is the producer of the weekly video roundup and formerly served as a news beat reporter covering COVID-19 on Stanford's campus and the assessment team leader of The Daily's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team. Sam is a Philadelphia native currently studying Symbolic Systems. You can follow him on Twitter @sbcatania. Contact him at scatania 'at' stanforddaily.com

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