A Reoccurring Feature on Who's Jumping Off Luxury Liner Trump
Atlas had become widely disliked in the White House — even among aides who shared his view that the country should reopen and that officials should not worry about young, healthy people contracting the virus.
Although Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no infectious-disease or public health background, fell out of favor with senior White House advisers in recent weeks, he was the only medical adviser the president met with regularly for several months, according to several senior administration officials. Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner brought in Atlas, who was officially made a special government employee this summer with a 130-day detail, which expires this week. Aides noted, however, that the president could have extended Atlas’s tenure if he had desired to do so.
Trump sidelined the task force’s other doctors, including White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, soon after Atlas arrived and advocated an approach more in line with what the president wanted to hear.
Atlas’s resignation comes as more than 267,000 Americans have died of the virus and 13.5 million have been infected. The country is entering the worst stretch yet of the pandemic, with more than 95,000 hospitalizations and more than 1,000 deaths reported Monday.
Atlas embraced strategies that most public health experts warned were dangerous. He advocated allowing the virus to spread among young, healthy people to help the country reach “herd immunity” levels — a strategy experts warned would result in tens of thousands of needless deaths — and said the country should focus on protecting the vulnerable and the elderly, including those in nursing homes, even though millions of such people share households with young people.
He also shot down attempts by Birx and Fauci to expand testing; openly feuded with other doctors on the coronavirus task force and succeeded in largely sidelining them; and advanced fringe theories, such as that social distancing and mask-wearing were meaningless and would not have changed the course of the virus.
[Source: Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb]