Stanford University officials on Monday distanced the elite institution from Dr. Scott Atlas, saying that his views on handling the coronavirus pandemic were “inconsistent” with those of the university and its conservative-leaning think tank after Atlas appeared to promote an uprising against measures to combat the spread of coronavirus as cases reach record-highs.
“Dr. Atlas has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic,” the university wrote in a statement issued Monday evening. “Dr. Atlas’s statements reflect his personal views, not those of the Hoover Institution or the university.”
The statement comes after Atlas, a senior fellow at the elite university’s Hoover Institution — a widely-respected think tank in libertarian circles that according to its website develops public policies to advance “principles of individual, economic, and political freedom” — urged Michigan residents in a tweet over the weekend to “rise up” against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s restrictions on indoor activities.
The Palo Alto-based research university pushed back on Atlas’ apparent rejection of measures to combat the spread of the deadly virus, saying that its position on managing the pandemic has been clear.
“We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing,” university officials wrote. “We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”
The statement starkly contrasted the position taken by Atlas, who has been on leave from the university since he was tapped by the Trump administration to serve as a coronavirus adviser. Atlas quickly became a Trump-favorite for repeatedly pushing for a pandemic response that flouts guidelines for curbing the spread of coronavirus for a majority of the population, suggesting that more COVID-19 cases don’t lead to more deaths.
Atlas has also advanced an approach that bears striking resemblance to herd immunity, a theory which has not been widely embraced or proven within the scientific community that advocates for transmission of coronavirus among the young and healthy. Those promoting the theory have pushed for protections against the virus for the elderly and at-risk populations, but it would be virtually impossible to keep Americans who are elderly or are otherwise at higher risk of death from COVID-19 safe from the highly contagious virus if transmission is permitted to run rampant.