Meet Jerome Adams, the US surgeon general on the coronavirus task force who was the health commissioner of Indiana when the MERS virus hit in 2014 and has experience containing HIV outbreaks with Mike Pence
- Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned the country that this week is predicted to be the worst of the pandemic so far, comparing it as a moment in history to Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
- Adams joined the Coronavirus Task Force in March 2020 and has since received praise from President Donald Trump for publicly backing his claims related to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Aside from telling the country about health issues, surgeon generals run the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which is a group of uniformed health officers that respond to medical emergencies in the US and abroad.
- Surgeon generals don't typically attract as much attention as Adams has.
- Adams began serving as a US surgeon general in 2017 and was focused on the opioid epidemic. Before that, he served as state health commissioner of Indiana alongside the then-governor of Indiana, Mike Pence.
- During his time as a health commissioner from 2014 to 2017, Adams had a heavy hand in containing HIV and MERS virus outbreaks.
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Jerome Adams is the current US surgeon general who recently warned Americans that this week's death doll from health complications related to coronavirus is expected to be the highest yet.
It's a US surgeon general's job talk to Americans about health by giving speeches and providing public health reports about how different things impact our health. They must be liscenced physicians and they're appointed by the president.Advertisement
Adams has used press conferences, reports, and social media to give Americans health information during the coronavirus pandemic.
He urged Americans to stop buying masks if they're not sick in a tweet on February 29.Advertisement
Since then, the CDC has changed its guidelines. It now recommends having your face covered in public to prevent the spread of the virus, and Adams released a video explaining how to make a homemade facemask out of common items.
Adams has defended several of Trump's claims related to the coronavirus, including that most Americans should be more worried about the seasonal flu than the virus and that Democratic lawmakers' politicization of the crisis was, in Trump's words, a "new hoax."Advertisement
President Donald Trump praised Adams at a press briefing in early March following these defenses. He said Adams had done "a fantastic job."
Adams called in to "Good Morning America" on March 19 and called on social-media influencers like Kylie Jenner to help relay the seriousness of the novel coronavirus to the younger generations.Advertisement
Surgeon generals haven't historically received as much attention as Adams has as Aamer Madhani of the Associated Press noted.
Adams grew up in rural Maryland and worked as an anesthesiologist before serving as health commissioner of Indiana.Advertisement
Adams has a medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine, a master of public health degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and two bachelor's degrees in biochemistry and psychology from the University of Maryland.
Adams is an anesthesiologist, husband, and father. He became the US Surgeon General in 2017.Advertisement
Before that, Adams served as state health commissioner of Indiana when Vice President Mike Pence was the state governor. Pence appointed Adams in 2014.
Four months into the job, Adams addressed an HIV outbreak caused by the opioid crisis in rural Indiana. Adams played a key role in persuading Pence to agree to the distribution of clean needles to drug users to combat the outbreak.Advertisement
Pence expressed ethical-moral concerns about the program. By advocating for community health, Adams convinced Pence to accept it anyway, Adams' colleagues from his time as health commissioner of Indiana told NPR.
The needle exchange program that Adams is credited with persuading Pence to accept now operates in nine counties in Indiana.Advertisement
Adams also led Indiana's response to the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a viral respiratory illness, alongside Pence in 2014.
The CDC praised the handling of the MERS virus at a hospital in Indiana, where 50 healthcare workers who were exposed to the virus self-isolated to prevent the spread of the virus. The CDC said their rapid and thorough isolation of exposed workers helped them avoid a chain of transmission.Advertisement
Adams has prioritized the opioid epidemic during his time as surgeon general. He issued the first Surgeon General's Advisory in 13 years urging Americans at-risk of overdose to carry a lifesaving drug overdose reversal medication called naloxone.
Public health reports have historically led to federal policy change.Advertisement
In 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry published a report about the dangers of smoking to your health, including that it was the major cause of lung cancer in men.
After the report came out, Congress passed a law requiring a warning label on cigarette packaging, which is prefaced on the packaging with: "Surgeon General's Warning."Advertisement
The surgeon general also holds the rank of Vice Admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which is a group of uniformed service members that respond to public health emergencies around the world.
This means that Adams leads about 6,500 health officers in the US and abroad. These uniformed service members work across federal departments and agencies including the CDC and the National Institutes of Health.Advertisement
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