On Monday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams issued a stern warning concerning the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and admonished Americans for not taking the threat seriously enough. During an interview on NBC’s Today Show — available via Twitter — Adams spoke about his expectation that the pandemic will worsen this week. The surgeon general felt that one major factor involved in the growing number of COVID-19 cases is people ignoring the guidelines for social distancing. Dr. Adams also mentioned that citizens who were refusing to stay at home were also complicating matters.
“Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now… We need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else. Or you could be getting it from someone else, stay at home.”
Adams was particularly disheartened by the actions of certain young people in the face of the pandemic, specifically referencing packed beaches across the country and the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the latter being flooded with tourists viewing the blooming cherry blossom trees. Adams reiterated that COVID-19 does pose a risk to young people, and that they could face hospitalization — or even death — by disregarding guidelines. He spoke of the overwhelming amount of cases in New York City and detailed his fears that cities such as Dallas, New Orleans, or Chicago could see similar rates of infection if their residents continue to ignore the medical reality of the current situation.
The surgeon general also addressed calls for President Trump to make use of the Defense Production Act, which would require companies to shift their production focus toward supplies critically needed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Adams said implementing the act wasn’t necessary at this time, as many companies such as Hanes and Honeywell were already working alongside the government in ramping up production of necessary items. Adams reiterated that mass production alone won’t be enough to end the outbreak, and said that Americans need to take the recommended measures seriously if they want to stop the spread and return to normalcy.
“We’re not going to ventilator our way out of this problem. We’re not going to treat our way out of this problem. The way you stop the spread of an infectious disease like this is with mitigation measures and preventing people from getting it in the first place.”
Adams also addressed a recent tweet by Trump that some have interpreted as a suggestion to possibly lift restrictions intended to slow spreading after the White House’s 15-day plan concludes. The cryptic all-caps tweet warned that the United States couldn’t let the “cure” be worse than the “problem.” Adams had previously said that restrictions may need to extend beyond the 15-day period.
“Where I come down is that every single day counts. Every single second counts, and right now there are not enough people out there taking this seriously.”