Paul Alexander, Caputo’s science adviser — who was at the center of efforts to muzzle the department’s career scientists — also will be leaving HHS, the department said.

Caputo, who on Tuesday apologized to HHS staff for his remarks, confirmed to POLITICO that he is taking medical leave. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, he said the leave would allow him “to pursue necessary screenings for a lymphatic issue discovered last week.”

Caputo added that he had put off seeing a doctor about the issue for months. “This was a mistake, and contributed to my stress level, along with the increasing number of violent threats leveled at me and my family back in Buffalo,” he said. “But every American battling COVID — in every city in every state across the nation — has been under enormous pressure. I am just one of them.”