Surgeon General On Admin’s Coronavirus Rhetoric: ‘Messaging Is Hard’

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams walks outside the West Wing of the White House on his way to do a television interview with Fox News on March 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Reports of cases o... WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams walks outside the West Wing of the White House on his way to do a television interview with Fox News on March 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Reports of cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. have now reached 18 states. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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March 8, 2020 12:36 p.m.

Surgeon General and coronavirus task force member Jerome Adams struggled to justify the Trump administration’s claims that the coronavirus is contained during Sunday morning TV appearances.

When CNN’s Jake Tapper mentioned the influx of coronavirus case reports in the past 48 hours — citing cases in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Nebraska, South Carolina, Hawaii, Utah, Kansas, Virginia, Missouri, Vermont and Washington D.C. — Adams responded that coronavirus is “absolutely” spreading.

Adams added that despite the administration initially having a “posture of containment,” it is now “shifting into a mitigation phase,” which he described as “helping communities understand, you’re going to see more cases” and “more deaths.”

After Adams insisted that there’s no need to panic, Tapper then asked him to respond to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s and counselor Kellyanne Conway’s claims that the coronavirus is largely “contained.”

“Well, this is a novel virus. It’s a new situation. And the messaging, quite frankly, is hard,” Adams said, before saying that “the first thing you want to try to do is contain the virus” and that some parts of the country have contained it.

Later on in the interview, Tapper asked Adams about the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship and President Trump considering keeping it off the coast of California.

“I understand you don’t want to get into politics, but can you assure the American people that decisions are not being made just because the President wants to keep the numbers low, as opposed to helping Americans?” Tapper asked, before classifying Trump’s consideration as “a public relations decision” and not a medical one.

Adams responded that based on his experience of being on the task force for about a week-and-a-half, “the medical input is taken” and that “our voices are in no way, shape or form suppressed.”

Watch Adams’ remarks on CNN below:

Adams also fielded questions regarding the administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday morning.

When asked to respond to criticism that the administration has been slow to respond to the virus, Adams reiterated how it’s focusing on mitigation now despite its initial containment-focused approach.

“Well, containment worked to slow the introduction of the virus and gave people time to prepare, and now we know that communities need to look at how we deal with community spread and things such as social distancing, not having large gatherings, pulling down events,” Adams said. “Those are conversations that communities need to be having right now.”

Watch Adams’ remarks on CBS below:

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