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Stanford: Trump adviser's COVID-19 views 'inconsistent' with university's approach

The statement about Stanford senior fellow Scott Atlas comes one day after he called on people to 'rise up' following new coronavirus-related restrictions.

Stanford University released a statement Monday distancing itself from comments made by Dr. Scott Atlas, one of its senior fellows who is also a coronavirus adviser to President Donald Trump, saying his views are "inconsistent" with the academic institution.

The university's statement comes a day after Atlas called on Michigan residents to "rise up" after its governor issued new coronavirus-related restrictions as cases surge there and across the country -- a call Atlas said was taken the wrong way -- although Stanford did not specify if that's what it was responding to.

Atlas, a science adviser to Trump, has suggested in the past that masks do not work to stop the spread of the coronavirus. That goes against the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and the World Health Organization. Twitter blocked a tweet from Atlas last month in which he downplayed mask use.

Atlas also told Russian state-funded TV channel RT last month that he considered the COVID-19 pandemic to be mostly under control and that it was actually lockdowns that are “killing people.”

Credit: AP
White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas speaks at the White House, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

On Sunday, Atlas urged people to “rise up” after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration ordered high schools and colleges to stop in-person classes, closed restaurants to indoor dining and suspended organized sports — including the football playoffs — in a bid to curb the state's spiking coronavirus cases.

"The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp," Atlas said while retweeting the new restrictions.

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Trump himself has urged supporters to push Whitmer to reopen the state following virus restrictions, though many rules had been lifted previously.

Fourteen men were charged earlier this fall in an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer in anger over her COVID-19 restrictions. She called the tweet by Atlas “incredibly reckless."

Atlas later tweeted that he “NEVER” talking about violence, adding "People vote, people peacefully protest."

Atlas is on leave from serving as a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. The university said it was asked to comment on "recent statements" by Atlas, but did not specify what statements those were.

"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.

"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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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