Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams: ‘There is light at the end of this’

April 16, 2020

Even though Dr. Jerome Adams has been the 20th U.S. surgeon general since September 2017, many people didn’t know he was the nation’s top doctor until the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr. Adams is a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force and is a constant fixture at the White House’s daily press briefings. Over the past several weeks, Americans have heard Dr. Adams’ cries for them to stay at home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Despite the many challenges that come with Dr. Adams’ post, the 45-year-old married father of three seems to be taking it all in stride.

His mission as the “Nation’s Doctor,” is to advance the health of the American people. Dr. Adams’ motto as surgeon general is “better health through better partnerships.” He’s committed to strengthening relationships with all members of the health community and forging new partnerships with members from the business, faith, education and public safety and national security communities.

As the surgeon general, Dr. Adams holds the rank of vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. In this capacity, he oversees the operations of approximately 6,500 uniformed health officers who serve in nearly 800 locations around the world, promoting, protecting, and advancing the health and safety of our nation.

“I absolutely believe this is going to be an incredibly sad and an incredibly hard week for our country,” Dr. Adams told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. “But the American people have the power to change the trajectory of this epidemic if we come together like we have after past tragedies in this county.”

Recently, Dr. Adams said the next 30 days are critical to slow the spread of the virus in the U.S. and urged the public to practice social distancing.

“We need you to continue doing your part. And most people actually are — over 90 percent of the country is actually doing the right thing right now,” Dr. Adams said.

Aside from telling the country about our current health issues, Dr. Adams has created several initiatives to tackle our nation’s most pressing health issues including the opioid epidemic, oral health, and the links between community health and both economic prosperity and national security. In response to the opioid epidemic, Dr. Adams issued the first surgeon general’s advisory in 13 years, urging more Americas to carry naloxone, an FDA-approved medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Dr. Adams also released an opioid-specific report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Spotlight on Opioids, and a digital postcard calling for a cultural shift in the way Americans think about, talk about and respond to the opioid crisis. His surgeon general’s postcard recommends actions that can prevent and treat opioid misuse, and promote recovery.

Dr. Jerome Adams

Additionally, Dr. Adams is focused on building a culture of health and prevention in all sectors. As part of those efforts, Dr. Adams has commissioned a surgeon general’s report to explore the connection between private sector investments and public policies leading to healthier communities and advancing business and community prosperity.

After agreeing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal government should be tracking the impact of the coronavirus within different demographic groups, Dr. Adams said that his office had been discussing health equity prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

“But my office, long before COVID-19, has been talking about health equity, has been talking about the need to help people understand when they’re at risk and to actually intervene,” Dr. Adams said.

Dr. Adams went on to explain why African Americans are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

“When you look at being black in America, number one: people unfortunately are more likely to be of low socioeconomic status, which makes it harder to social distance,” Dr. Adams said. “Number two, we know that blacks are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease.”

Dr. Adams added he has personally shared having high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma and being pre-diabetic.

“So I represent that legacy of growing up poor and black in America, and I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID,” Dr. Adams said. “It’s why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread.”

Dr. Adams has earned two bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a master’s degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley and a medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine.

He has been a leader in numerous professional organizations, including the American Medical Association, the Indiana State Medical Association and the Indiana Society of Anesthesiologists. Dr. Adams is also the former Health Commissioner of Indiana, where he led the state’s responses to Ebola, Zika, and to the largest ever HIV outbreak in the United States related to injection drug use.

Dr. Adams has pledged to lead with science, and facilitate locally led solutions to the nation’s most difficult health problems. He also feels his toughest, but, most important, job is being a father to his teen sons, Caden and Eli, and his daughter, Millie