Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on Monday warned that the coronavirus spread in the U.S. is going to get worse this week, adding that not everyone is heeding President Trump’s recent call to hunker down for 15 days.
“I want America to understand this week, it’s going to get bad,” Adams said in an interview on the “TODAY” show.
Adams said that the virus is spreading because many people — especially young people — are not following federal guidelines to stay home and keep away from people. “Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously,” he said.
On March 16, Trump called on Americans to self-isolate in a set of guidelines titled “15 Days To Slow The Spread.” The guidelines called on people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for the next 15 days, avoid “eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts,” and cut back on social visits.
“Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread,” Trump said that day in a press conference at the White House briefing room.
But Adams said young people are not following the directives, noting that they’re packing beaches in California and swarming the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to see the cherry blossom trees, which are in full bloom right now. He said those actions are irresponsible.
“Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now. So, test or no test. 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 said. “This is how the spread is occurring. So we really, really need everyone to stay at home. I think that there are a lot of people who are doing the right things, but I think that unfortunately we’re finding out a lot of people think this can’t happen to them.”
Adams was asked if Trump needs to take more stringent actions to curb the spread of the virus. “Here’s the thing that people don’t understand: You don’t need to compel someone to do something they are already doing,” he said.
And the surgeon general said preventing the spread is far more important than treating the virus after people have caught it.
“The other important point is that we’re not going to ventilator our way out of this problem. We’re not going to treat our way out of this problem,” he said. “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.”
The surgeon general’s grim assessment came just hours after Trump suggested that he may call for the end of restrictions at the end of his 15-day period, tweeting that “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.” In an interview Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who’s advising the Coronavirus Task Force, likewise cautioned against the “unintended consequences” of shutting down the economy and disrupting infrastructure.