Stanford University sought to distance itself Monday from Dr. Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at the university’s Hoover Institution and key member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, a day after Atlas encouraged people to “rise up” in response to new pandemic-related restrictions implemented by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“Dr. Atlas has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic,” the university said in a statement. “Dr. Atlas’s statements reflect his personal views, not those of the Hoover Institution or the university.”
Whitmer, responding to rising numbers of new coronavirus cases, called for suspending in-person teaching at schools and colleges, and the closure of indoor restaurants and some other businesses.
Following Whitmer’s announcement Sunday, Atlas tweeted: “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept.”
His comments drew immediate condemnation, including from Whitmer, who called them reckless.
Authorities in October uncovered an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer and overthrow the Michigan state capitol. In a follow-up tweet, Atlas said he was “NEVER talking at all about violence.”
Atlas joined the White House in August. He previously worked as a professor and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center from 1998 to 2012, before joining the Hoover Institution as a senior fellow. He has no experience in the treatment of infectious diseases.
Atlas has spoken in favor of herd immunity through infection as a way to reopen the economy and schools. In October, Twitter removed a tweet from Atlas that undermined the importance of masks, CNN reported.
In September, nearly 100 Stanford staff specializing in areas like epidemiology, health policy and infectious diseases signed a letter denouncing Atlas and saying “many of his opinions and statements run counter to established science.”
“Stanford’s position on managing the pandemic in our community is clear,” the university said in Monday’s statement. “We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing. We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”
Atlas did not immediately respond to an inquiry sent to his Stanford email address Monday.