STANFORD (CBS SF) — Stanford University is disassociating itself from Dr. Scott Atlas, a White House science advisor who has the ear of President Donald Trump and who has issued statements on the coronavirus pandemic that run counter to widely-accepted guidance and the administration’s own health experts.
Atlas, a neuroradiologist who has no background in infectious diseases or epidemiology, is a senior fellow at Stanford’s conservative-leaning Hoover Institution public policy think tank.
The university on Monday said it had been asked to comment on recent statements by Atlas, who is currently on leave from his position at the Hoover Institution. Atlas, who has become President Trump’s leading COVID-19, has criticized lockdowns and restrictions in response to the pandemic, downplayed mask use, and claimed that only those who are vulnerable need protection from the virus.
“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 statement said. “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.”
Atlas received intense criticism after urged people in Michigan Sunday to “rise up” against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after she announced new closures to schools and businesses as cases spiked in the state. Whitmer was targeted in an alleged kidnapping plot by so-called militia members which was foiled by the FBI just before the election.
On Monday, Atlas clarified he was not trying to encourage more violence against Gov. Whitmer and was talking about voting and peaceful protest.