Stanford faculty demand university sanctions for Trump adviser and faculty member Scott Atlas

Scott Atlas; Donald Trump
Scott Atlas; Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump (L) listens to White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas speak during a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on September 23, 2020, in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

This article originally appeared here on Salon.com

Scott Atlas, one of President Trump’s special coronavirus advisers and a faculty member at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in Palo Alto, Calif., is causing a minor fracas among students and faculty at the elite university. Specifically, Atlas’ recommendations on coronavirus public health measures fly in the face of scientific consensus, faculty says — a charge that Atlas denies, and which he has threatened litigation over.  

During a Faculty Senate meeting at Stanford University late last month, the college’s president and provost were asked whether Dr. Scott Atlas should face university sanctions for positions he has taken about the novel coronavirus pandemic that go against the scientific consensus. (As the faculty noted, Atlas is a neuroradiologist, not an epidemiologist or a scholar of infectious disease.) At the meeting, similar questions were raised about the university’s relationship with the Hoover Institution, where Atlas is a senior fellow. The Hoover Institution is a conservative think tank located on Stanford’s campus that has supported a laundry list of prominent right-wing statesmen over the years, from Condoleezza Rice to Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz. 

Unsurprisingly given the politics of his employer, Atlas’ public statements tend to delight conservatives and alarm scientists who study public health and infectious diseases. Atlas recently tweeted that masks do not work to prevent infection (an unsupported claim, and one which Twitter wound up taking down for being misleading); previously, he claimed publicly that the threat of the coronavirus is greatly exaggerated. Atlas also claimed that summer civil rights protests were to blame for coronavirus outbreaks, as well as proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, two more claims for which there is no evidence.

Despite being described by Trump as “one of the great experts of the world,” Atlas is reported to not have expertise in infectious disease mitigation or public health. Most recently, Atlas raised eyebrows last week for appearing on Russian state broadcaster RT, which is registered with the Justice Department as an agent of the Russian government.

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David Spiegel, a medicine professor and associate chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, claimed during the late October meeting (which occurred before the RT interview) that Atlas is the “latest member of the Hoover Institution to disseminate incorrect and unscientific information about the coronavirus pandemic,” according to Stanford News. He also accused Atlas of violating the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics and claimed that he may have additionally violated Stanford’s Code of Conduct.

University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne responded by citing the college’s Statement on Academic Freedom, although the provost acknowledged the validity of engineering professor Stephen Monismith’s concern about a New York Times report that some of Trump’s senior economic advisers had

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Dr. Scott Gottlieb warns of ‘staggering’ Covid death totals in U.S.

The United States could see “staggering” numbers of coronavirus deaths in the coming months as infection rates increase during the colder months, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Friday.

There were 916 deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. on Friday, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, an independent volunteer organization launched by journalists at The Atlantic. New coronavirus cases eclipsed 71,600 on Thursday.

Gottlieb, a physician who served as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner, emphasized that doctors have improved their treatment of Covid-19 patients during the pandemic, bringing down the mortality rate. He has said it might have been reduced by 50%.

Patient care also has been improved due to drugs such as Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir, which on Thursday became an FDA-approved treatment for Covid-19, as well as the use of steroids such as dexamethasone, according to Gottlieb. President Donald Trump received both after his coronavirus diagnosis.

Despite these positive developments, Gottlieb said the challenge the U.S. is facing now is simply how widespread the virus is across the country. “Mortality is going to be down, but we’re going to be infecting so many people that the daily death statistics are going to be staggering,” said Gottlieb, who led the FDA under Trump from May 2017 to April 2019.

There could be “well above 1,000” new deaths per day reported in the weeks ahead, he said. “And we might retest some of the totals that we saw in the spring, when we were reporting 2,000 deaths a day related to this virus, just because of the sheer number of people we’re likely to infect heading into the winter right now.”

The U.S. has almost 8.5 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and at least 223,752 people have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Public health experts have been warning for months that colder weather during the fall and winter is likely to coincide with a resurgence of the coronavirus because people are spending more time indoors, where transmission can more easily occur.

The pandemic is intensifying in countries across the world, and some nations are on a “dangerous track,” the head of the World Health Organization warned Friday. “We are at a critical juncture in this pandemic, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Restrictions have again been implemented in parts of Europe, including an overnight curfew in regions of France, in an attempt to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Gottlieb said he believes the response in the U.S. to rising infection rates will be targeted interventions in hot-spot areas, rather than the lockdown orders that were issued in the early stages of the pandemic when inadequate testing regimes made it difficult to determine where transmission was happening.

“I think we’re going to bear a lot more infection … and the health-care system is going to have to bear the brunt of this burden, because I don’t think you have the popular will for stay-at-home orders or broad

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