US Surgeon General: COVID-19 Spread to Worsen, Not Enough People Taking Preventive Measures


Not enough people are taking seriously frequent recommendations to practice social distancing, he said.

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, warned Monday during an interview with NBC’s Today show that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is getting worse in the United States.1

“I want America to understand. This week, it’s going to get bad. We really need to come together as a nation,” he told Today anchor Savannah Guthrie.1

Citing news reports and videos, Adams said that many Americans are still visiting public spaces, including beaches and Washington, DC’s famous cherry blossoms, in large numbers.

Not enough people are taking seriously frequent recommendations to practice social distancing, he said.1

“This is how the spread is occurring. We really, really need people to stay at home,” the surgeon general said.1

“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 said.

On Monday, the CDC reported 33,404 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country, and 400 deaths. All 50 states and Washington, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands had reported cases. New York State has been the hardest hit with 15,168 cases reported to the CDC by Monday afternoon. In addition, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Washington State each had more than 1000 cases each.2

The spread in these states most affected should serve as a warning to other regions of the country, Adams said.1

“We don’t want Dallas or New Orleans or Chicago to become the next New York. It means everyone needs to take the right steps right now, and that means stay at home.” Adams said.1

“People are still reacting and waiting to see spread before deciding to get serious,” he said.

The surgeon general told Guthrie that Americans need to take more seriously the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” initiative announced by President Trump on March 16, 2020.1 The initiative’s directives include:3

  • Avoid discretionary travel, gatherings in groups of 10 people or more, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • Do not eat or drink at bars, food courts, and restaurants. Use delivery, drive-through, and takeout options instead.
  • Do not visit long-term-care facilities, nursing homes, or retirement communities unless critically needed.
  • Practice good hygiene, including avoiding touching one’s face, coughing or sneezing into the inside of an elbow or a tissue, disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces, and washing hands.
  • Work or engage in school from home whenever possible.

Adams said those directives are mitigation measures designed to prevent the spread of the virus.

The directives work best the earlier they are practiced, he said.1

“There are not enough people taking it seriously,” Adams said.1 “Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now. Stay. At. Home.”


  • NBC News. US Surgeon General Jerome Adams on coronavirus: this week it’s going to get bad. Today show website. Posted March 23, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2020.
  • CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): cases in U.S. Updated March 23, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2020.
  • The White House. The president’s coronavirus guidelines for America: 15 days to slow the spread. Published March 16, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2020.

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