Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, is taking a sixty-day medical leave from his position. Interestingly, this announcement comes only three days after he made a bizarre Facebook rant. In the explosive rant, he accused scientists in the US of sedition, warned Trump’s supporters of a potential armed insurrection, and other bizarre conspiracy theories.
Caputo’s rant struck many as a strange look into the mentality of Trump’s executive branch. According to the HHS, his leave will be for sixty days so he can “focus on his health and the well-being of his family.”
While Facebook is normally a site you go to in order to argue with friends about top treatments for baggy eyes, it’s also a great site for sharing conspiracy theories and bizarre rants. However, you don’t normally expect government officials to be the ones espousing such strange theories. That expectation was subverted over the weekend, when Michael Caputo issued an odd screed on the social media site.
Caputo’s rant was issued via Facebook Live, the livestreaming sub-header of the site. In the rant, he expressed fear that an armed insurrection could be coming. He also accused US scientists of “sedition,” and trying to undermine the country.
The sixty-day leave will have Caputo out of his position through the November 3 election. Many health department officials stated that they were worried Caputo might undermine public trust in a vaccine rollout.
Such a vaccine is expected to be released to the public somewhat soon, offering a way to end the pandemic. However, public trust in a vaccine could be compromised due to the speed employed in producing it.
Polling shows many Americans are afraid that a potential vaccine may be rushed. Others simply mistrust all vaccines, known as the “anti-vaxxer movement”, though these people are unlikely to be swayed in any case. However, Caputo’s expected role in helping with public relations would have been damaged by his incendiary Facebook remarks.
CDC Director Robert Redford noted that he was “deeply saddened” by Caputo’s insistence that the CDC was somehow a “resistance unit” against Donald Trump. Redford reminded the public that the CDC is “made up of thousands of men and women, highly competent.
It is the premier public health agency in the world”. The suggestion that the Center for Disease Control would be conspiring to harm the American people could be highly damaging in the midst of a global pandemic.