Stanford responds to Trump coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas’ calls for Michigan to ‘rise up’ against new restrictions
STANFORD UNIVERSITY – Stanford University on Monday responded to remarks Hoover Institution senior fellow and White House coronarvirus task force member Dr. Scott Atlas made about new public health measures to contain COVID-19, including a tweet in which he encouraged Michigan residents to “rise up.”
“Stanford’s position on managing the pandemic in our community is clear. 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,” the university said in a statement. “Dr. Atlas has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic. Dr. Atlas’s statements reflect his personal views, not those of the Hoover Institution or the university.”
— Stanford University (@Stanford) November 17, 2020
On Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the state will begin a “three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities” to mitigate the spread of the virus. The move comes amid a nationwide surge in cases.
“The only way this stops is if people rise up,” Atlas said in a tweet shortly after the new measures were announced. “You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.”
— Scott W. Atlas (@ScottWAtlas) November 15, 2020
On Monday, Atlas appeared on Fox News and insisted he wasn’t trying to “threaten or incite violence,” but is just “not very good at Twitter.”
Atlas said his tweet was in response to “literally thousands of emails I get from people all over the country, begging me to figure out how to end the lockdowns,” including from family members of people who have died by suicide during the pandemic.
“So what I meant, and I’m sorry I’m not very articulate on Twitter, is that basically if you want to change things you have to have your voices heard,” he said. “I didn’t mean anything more than that.”
Atlas also suggested the lockdowns contributed to the spread of the virus and appeared to encourage large holiday gatherings.
“This kind of isolation is one of the unspoken tragedies of the elderly who are now being told don’t see your family at Thanksgiving,” he said. “For many people this is their final Thanksgiving, believe it or not. What are we doing here? I think we have to have a policy, which I have been advocating, which is a whole person, whole health policy. It’s not about just stopping cases of COVID. We have to talk about the damage of the policy itself.”
President Donald Trump appointed Atlas, a diagnostic radiologist, to the White House coronavirus task force in August. As a special adviser to the president about the virus, he has made controversial statements about controlling the pandemic, which has killed more than 246,000 Americans, through “natural immunity,” this news organization previously reported. He also has urged the reopening of schools and businesses.
In September, dozens of Stanford University Medical School’s top faculty signed a letter denouncing Atlas for promoting what they called “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science.”
“Many of his opinions and statements run counter to established science and, by doing so, undermine public-health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy,” the letter stated.
Atlas is on a leave of absence from his position as a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, according to the university.