Munson Healthcare issued a statement Sunday distancing itself from a doctor whose post criticizing pandemic lockdown restrictions and calling for pursuing herd immunity went viral on social media.

A post attributed to Dr. John Krcmarik was widely reshared on Facebook in which he stated that lockdown measures were  “cruel and unnecessary” and that he was “fed up with all the martyrdom” he saw coming from Munson staff, saying that “irresponsible posts are ringing the panic bell” for reasons he linked to “personal notoriety” and “fear.” Krcmarik said that “the young and healthy” do not die from coronavirus, adding “we need to stop shutting schools down in favor of targeted protection for individuals at risk.”

Krcmarik wrote that “keeping the virus from going through the community is like trying to hold water in your hands indefinitely. I’m not surprised we’re seeing more cases as this is inevitable, and a good thing in the sense that the more individuals who get it and get over it, the greater the herd immunity, which is real and superior to a vaccine.” Krcmarik wrote that individuals should not be afraid and should trust their immune systems, that “nobody’s running out of protective equipment,” and that “herd immunity is real just like the virus.” At the conclusion of the post, Krcmarik wrote: “As a physician (like thousands of others) who feel ignored by current policy makers, I have signed the Barrington declaration – a far more reasonable approach to dealing with the case-demic than current policy lending to terrible realities that make the cure worse than the disease.”

The Great Barrington Declaration is a controversial proposal drafted by the American Institute for Economic Research that calls for allowing individuals to resume normal lives, which would purportedly build up immunity to coronavirus in the general population. The World Health Organization and several other bodies have criticized the proposal as unethical and dangerous, saying it would create a large number of avoidable deaths and does not reflect science around post-infection immunity. The American Public Health Association has said the document “ignores sound public health expertise.”

In a written statement posted to Munson’s website and social media Sunday, the hospital system said it “strongly disagrees with many of” Krcmarik’s statements, adding that his views and opinions do not reflect those of Munson Healthcare. The statement noted that while Krcmarik is credentialed to practice at Munson Medical Center, he is not employed by Munson Healthcare. While Munson originally called out Krcmarik by name, the hospital system later edited the post to remove Krcmarik’s name, referring to him only as an “independent provider who is credentialed to practice at Munson Medical Center.”

“We disagree with several of the premises of the Great Barrington Declaration including allowing populations to reach herd immunity which most public health experts agree is not sound or valid,” Munson wrote in the post. “As we honor others opinions and right to say them, Munson Healthcare infectious disease experts, clinical staff and leadership will continue to support and enact the best scientific and epidemiologic principles as we know them today. It is important that we work together to flatten the curve and promote the continued health of our population through access to appropriate care and preventive measures.”

According to Munson, the rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases in Michigan is leaving healthcare workers exposed and hospitals with strained capacity. “We urge Michiganders to comply with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services emergency order,” Munson wrote. “Please support healthcare workers by taking these preventive measures: don’t gather with people outside your household; arrange virtual Thanksgiving dinners; wear a mask whenever you leave home, and practice good hand hygiene. We know that restrictions of this nature are difficult for everyone, but are necessary – now more than ever – to preserve vital healthcare resources in our region. These safety behaviors prevent the unnecessary deaths of countless people, including those with underlying conditions who would otherwise continue to live active lives.”