Controversial Ex-Stanford Doctor Joins WH Coronavirus Task Force

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Gideon Rubin
·4 min read
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STANFORD, CA – Amid a coronavirus crisis that continues to spiral out of control, President Trump has tapped a doctor with local ties to join his COVID-19 task force who appears to have no relevant medical experience.

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Dr. Scott Atlas is a fellow at the Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution and a former Stanford University Medical Center chief of neuroradiology. He has no experience in epidemiology, nor any relevant public health or infectious disease expertise according to his Stanford bio page.

Atlas has emerged as a right-wing media darling in recent months, expressing views that are inconsistent with mainstream science and arguing against policies embraced by public health experts in the United States and throughout the world, The Associated Press reports.
“Scott is a very famous man who’s also very highly respected,” Trump said as he introduced his new advisor.
“He has many great ideas and he thinks what we’ve done is really good.”
Atlas’ ideas include criticizing lockdowns, advocating for sending kids back to classrooms and the return of college sports. He has spread misinformation that's echoed the president's rhetoric.
“It doesn’t matter if younger, healthier people get infected,” Atlas told KUSI News, a right-wing San Diego-based outlet.

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“I don’t know how often that has to be said. They have nearly zero risk of a problem from this. When younger, healthier people get infected, that’s a good thing … because that’s exactly the way that population immunity develops.”

Atlas’ addition to the task forces comes amid a growing rift between the president and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force’s coordinator, both of whom have declined to back Trump’s rosy view of the pandemic.

"What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread," Birx said in an appearance on CNN earlier this month in which she noted the spread of the virus into rural areas that seemed to be impervious to the outbreaks urban areas in the early months of the pandemic.

Fauci expressed a similarly grim view.

“Bottom line is, I’m not pleased with how things are going,” he told CNBC Thursday.

“We certainly are not where I hope we would be, we are in the middle of very serious historic pandemic.”

The president’s view of the coronavirus crisis is not consistent with that of the task force’s two most respected members.

“Right now, I think it’s under control,” Trump said in a recent interview with Axios.

“We have done a great job.”

Trump’s selection of Atlas reflects the president’s propensity to break with mainstream science.

Earlier this month, he retweeted a discredited doctor who falsely claimed hydroxychloroquine to be “cure for covid.” Stella Immanuel has a history of making bizarre claims, including saying that sex with demons that occurs during dreams was the cause of the uterine disorder endometriosis.

Atlas’ selection has drawn criticism across the political spectrum.

A former Hoover Institute colleague of Atlas told Politico that the task force’s newest addition would fit right in with an administration that’s shown a propensity to traffic misinformation amid a pandemic for political gain.

“At the end of the day, this is a problem for Stanford,” the former Atlas colleague said.

“Look, we have an administration that is lying about the virus, and they are grasping for anyone in a senior academic role. When they can use that branding and that title, it is instant credibility and that is what the administration is looking for.”

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This article originally appeared on the Palo Alto Patch