In another tweet later Sunday night, Atlas wrote that he “NEVER was talking at all about violence. People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!!”
Atlas, a physician with no expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology, has won favor in the White House in recent months by advocating against coronavirus restrictions and downplaying the disease’s threat.
He has also publicly attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, accusing the nation’s top infectious disease expert of stoking fears about the pandemic for political purposes ahead of the presidential election earlier this month.
On Monday morning, Fauci rebuked his fellow White House coronavirus task force member for encouraging an uprising in Michigan.
“I totally disagree with it, and I made no secret of that,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show. “I mean, I don’t want to say anything against Dr. Atlas as a person, but I totally disagree with the stand he takes. I just do, period.”
But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar appeared to show support for Atlas when asked about the tweet in an interview.
“I’d say to everybody, be guided by science and data, and the data supports keeping our schools open,” Azar told “Fox & Friends,” saying it was “ridiculous” to close places of learning.
Whitmer, a Democrat who was recently the target of a foiled kidnapping plot, has come under repeated attack by the White House for her public health measures throughout the pandemic — with Trump invoking her personally at campaign rallies and his supporters calling for her imprisonment.
In April, Trump memorably tweeted that aggrieved residents should “LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia — all states where Democratic governors had declared stay-at-home orders.
Michigan and Washington are the two latest states to issue new coronavirus restrictions as caseloads continue to soar across all parts of the country. The most recent record of daily cases was last Friday, when the U.S. notched more than 177,000 new infections.
Over the weekend, the U.S. surpassed 11 million Covid-19 cases in total, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and more than 246,000 Americans have died thus far from the disease.