Conservatives have viewed Atlas as an antidote of sorts to the Trump administration's previous point man for COVID-19 expertise, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is much more supportive of lockdowns and masking.
The post in question provided a link to an article from The American Institute for Economic Research which cast doubt on the effectiveness of mask wearing among the general population during influenza outbursts, with a comment from Atlas reading "Masks work? No".
He said his post meant to show that "general population masks and mask mandates do not work" and pointed out that they should be used when people can not socially distance.
In September, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified at a congressional hearing that masks are "the most powerful public health tool" against the coronavirus. Then the CDC put out a statement criticizing the tweet, widening the ongoing conflict between the agency and the White House. The tweet outraged a Twitter policy that prevents sharing false or misleading misinformation about Covid-19 that could lead to harm, a company spokesperson said. Both Trump and Atlas decried the idea that schools can not reopen this fall as "hysteria" and have pushed for the resumption of sports in colleges. Some have called for the leaders of Twitter and Facebook, which has also taken action on some of Trump's posts, to testify in front of Congress as soon as the coming week. Atlas said in an email, "I don't understand why the tweets were deleted".
Twitter has also flagged tweets from the president in the past which it claimed had violated the platform's Covid-19 policies.
Earlier in the month, Facebook removed a post in which Trump compared coronavirus to getting the flu. Birx, whose profile and influence has eroded considerably since Atlas's arrival, told Pence's office that she does not trust Atlas, does not believe he is giving Trump sound advice and wants him removed from the task force, the two people said. President Trump has been consistently undermining the usefulness of masks in dealing with the corona virus and even continued to do so even after being infected himself.
The United States has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. Trump has repeatedly blamed the case numbers on testing, despite the fact that it does not account for the almost 220,000 Americans who have died from the virus.