Michael Caputo, the top communications official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will take a two-month-long leave of absence, the agency released in a statement on Wednesday.
The pause from work will allow him to “focus on his health and the well-being of his family.” This means that Caputo will not be back in his position until after the November election.
The news comes two days after the New York Times reported that Caputo, a former adviser to President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, said on Facebook Live stream that government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic. He said in that video, which has since been made private, that there was a “resistance unit” at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a branch of HHS, that was attempting to undermine the president and that they were becoming “political animals.”
Caputo has also expressed concern about his own well-being, stating that his “mental health has definitely failed.” He has since apologized to HHS staff for his behavior, according to multiple media reports.
The HHS Department also said on Wednesday that Paul Alexander, a senior policy adviser to the assistant secretary for public affairs who was hired on a temporary basis, will be leaving the department. Ryan Murphy, the principal deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, will be in charge of Caputo’s office during his absence, the agency said.