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After ranting about armed uprising, top Health Dept. spokesperson takes leave

Enlarge / Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on May 1, 2018, in Washington, DC. Getty | Mark Wilson

Michael Caputo—the controversial spokesperson for the US Department of Health and Human Services, most recently known for watering down federal reports on COVID-19, railing against social distancing measures, and warning of left-wing “hit-squads” planning a post-election insurrection—has taken a 60-day leave of absence from the department.

Caputo “decided to take a leave of absence to focus on his health and the well-being of his family,” the HHS said Wednesday in a statement sent to Ars.

The statement also noted that Caputos scientific advisor, Paul Alexander—known recently for trying to muzzle top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci—is also on his way out.

Alexander “was hired to engage with the department on a temporary basis,” the statement noted. “Dr. Alexander will be leaving the department,” it added concisely.

The departures come as no surprise after a tumultuous few days. On Monday, Caputo made startling headlines with a Facebook live video in which he accused government scientists of “sedition” and claimed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention housed a “resistance unit.” He also warned that left-wing “hit-squads” are preparing for an armed uprising after the election and spoke of long “shadows” in his apartment. He suggested he was personally in danger and said his “mental health has definitely failed.”

Troubled times

The point resonated with comments he made in a politically supercharged HHS podcast, released September 11. After spending much of the podcast downplaying COVID-19, he noted how daily work on the pandemic has shaken him. “I find myself every morning, the first time I use my voice, Im talking about death,” Caputo said. He noted heart-wrenching accounts from doctors who watch their COVID-19 patients die: “The looks on their faces when theyre dying is just something that they can't forget. These doctors cant forget it. And… this is the first thing I talk about in the morning.”

But Caputo has also referenced problems with his physical health. In an emergency staff meeting at the HHS Tuesday—in which he apologized for his comments about government scientists—he reportedly suggested he wanted to take a medical leave of absence. And in a text message to a New York Times reporter Wednesday, he said he was taking leave so that he could “pursue necessary screenings for a lymphatic issue.”

Caputos departure comes after a short tenure at the HHS.Read More – Source