Dr. Jerome Adams, the 20th Surgeon General of the United States, has become a regular on the news, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, as America looks to health officials for clarity amid the coronavirus pandemic. Adams got personal at a task force briefing at the White House on April 10, 2020, showing his asthma inhaler, according to CNN. Adams said that he wanted viewers to know that even “if you look fit, if you look young,” you’re still at risk for getting the coronavirus. He added, “As a matter of fact, I’ve been carrying around an inhaler in my pocket for 40 years out of fear of having a fatal asthma attack.”
Adams also took advantage of the moment to break down stigmas about health. According to CNN, he said, “… I hope that showing you this inhaler shows little kids with asthma all across the country that they can grow up to be Surgeon General one day.” With such an inspiring message, it’s safe to say that we’re undeniably intrigued by this remarkable doctor.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams crossed paths with Mike Pence before their White House days
Dr. Jerome Adams grew up in rural Maryland where his father “worked the tobacco fields and raised pigs on a farm that belonged to his grandfather,” according to Newsweek. Adams went to the University of Maryland on a “full-tuition Meyerhoff scholarship, a grant funded by the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Foundation and dedicated to minority students interested in the sciences.” After studying in Holland and Zimbabwe, Adams attended medical school at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He also received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley, according to USA Today.
Adams worked as an anesthesiologist in Indiana for years before then-Governor Mike Pence asked if he would work as state health commissioner in October 2014, according to Newsweek. It wasn’t long after Adams began that HIV cases in Indiana started to surge and he was tasked with conducting research to discover the cause. According to Newsweek, “after interviews and investigations, Adams was soon certain that the needles were the primary transmission route by which HIV was spreading…”
In light of his findings, Adams asked Pence to open a syringe exchange program in Indiana, where clean needles were given to addicts for free in order to prevent the spread of HIV. While the program eventually went into effect, Pence was heavily criticized for his delay in responding to the viral spread. According to Politico, Pence took so long to approve the health measures that the situation became a “public health crisis.”
Surgeon General Jerome Adams saved the day on a Delta flight
In June 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Dr. Jerome Adams to be the 20th Surgeon General of the United States, according to The New York Times. In his opening statement in August of the same year, Adams said that he wanted to “make America healthier” and shared that his priorities as the U.S. Surgeon General were to deal with the opioid crisis and “untreated mental illness.”
Not long after Adams became the nations’s “Top Doctor,” he was on a Delta flight when the crew asked if a doctor was on board, according to the Washington Examiner. The flight crew was amazed when their call for help was answered by the surgeon general himself and Adams even tweeted about the experience, saying: “On my @Delta flight to Jackson, Mississippi (by way of Atlanta), and they asked if there was a Doctor on board to help with a medical emergency – why yes- yes there was. Patient doing well and like a good #USPHS officer, I was glad to be able to assist!”
In addition to his day job, Adams is a proud husband and father to three children, whom he brags about in adorable posts on the official Instagram account of the U.S. Surgeon General. For International Women’s Day, Adams shared a lovely tribute to his daughter, Millie, writing: “Women are a powerful force that continue to make our world a better place.”
Surgeon General Jerome Adams took some heat for his response to Covid-19
Since the spread of the coronavirus began, Dr. Jerome Adams has been under public scrutiny. According to The Atlantic, Adams addressed the particular hardships faced by people of color during this global pandemic and urged people to change their habits during this time, saying on April 10, 2020: “Do it for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy, do it for your big mama, do it for your pop-pop.”
Some found his language offensive and rhetorically racist, but Adams defended his words, saying, “I used the language that is used in my family,” according to CNN.
Adams also got in trouble for asking Americans to stop buying masks on Twitter, back on Feb. 29, 2020, claiming that when the general public purchases all the masks, it takes them away from sick patients. However, Adams has since changed his stance, encouraged the use of masks and even made a video showing how to make a mask at home.
While Adams may have made a few sweeping statements about the coronavirus too soon, he has promptly amended any mistakes he made. Additionally, Adams has been very active on Twitter, sharing resources for Americans and celebrating success stories, saying: “We are accelerating in [the] right direction.”
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