But that didn’t stop Dr Atlas. In mid-November, he called on Michigan residents to “stand up” against the coronavirus restrictions. State Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who had faced death threats and a foiled kidnapping attempt due to the restrictions, denounced him as “incredibly reckless.”
But in his resignation letter and accompanying tweet, Dr Atlas defended himself.
“We also identified and brought to light early on the harms of prolonged lockdowns, including the fact that they lead to massive loss of physical health and psychological distress, destroy families and harm our children,” he writes.
“And more and more,” he added, “the relatively low risk for children of severe damage from infection, less frequent spread of children, the presence of immunological protection beyond that shown by antibody tests and the serious damage caused by the closure of schools and society are all recognized.
Within the administration, Dr Atlas notably opposed Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the government‘s leading infectious disease specialist, and Dr Deborah L. Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator.
While Dr Atlas downplayed the need for masks, Dr Birx roamed the country preaching otherwise. She implored governors and public health officials in hard-hit states to take more aggressive action. The two have also clashed several times in private.
But Dr Atlas’ disagreements with Dr Fauci were more visceral – and more public.
After the election, Dr Atlas accused Dr Fauci of being a “political animal” who changed his assessment of the threat of the pandemic after it became clear that Mr Trump had lost. Dr Fauci responded in kind.
“I don’t want to say anything against Dr Atlas as a person, but I totally disagree with the position he’s taking,” he recently told NBC’s “Today” show, after the comments. from Dr. Atlas on Michigan. “I’m just doing, period.