The Surgeon General Just Issued This Stark Warning About COVID
Here's what he said to those who "don't take precautions against COVID because [they] don't feel at risk."
A new year may have begun, but many of 2020's problems are still carrying over. As many medical experts feared, the pandemic is continuing to grow into record-breaking territory. In December, new COVID infections in the U.S. rose more than 40 percent from November, which had seen more than twice as many cases as any previous month since the pandemic started, according to a USA Today analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. Similarly, the country reported more deaths in December than the previous record set in April, and not by a small margin, either—by more than 16,800 deaths. As hospitals near or reach capacity across the nation, the U.S. surgeon general is issuing a grim warning about COVID and how easily it can affect you when you least expect it, both directly and indirectly.
Lacey Adams, the wife of U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, had recently been admitted to the hospital as she developed complications from cancer treatments she was receiving. During an appearance on CNN's State of the Union on Jan. 3, Adams told host Jake Tapper that the current realities of the pandemic made the experience entirely different than it would have been otherwise. "I want people to understand that if you don't take precautions against COVID because you don't feel at risk, it can impact you, your family, your community in so many other ways," Adams warned.
Read on to see what one of the nation's top health advisors had to say, and for more warnings from another leading expert, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said These 5 Very Scary Words About COVID-19.
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He wasn't able to see his ailing wife at the hospital.
As hospitalization numbers hit a record high nationally on Jan. 3, Adams warned that a lack of hospital beds and overcrowding are making a bad situation created by the pandemic even worse. Current conditions have made it difficult for doctors to treat other non-COVID related health issues, and have made it harder for families to be there for their loved ones in times of need, as the surgeon general knows firsthand.
"I, as the surgeon general of the United States, had to drop my wife off at the front door and couldn't see her go in to the hospital, hadn't been able to visit her, didn't know if she was going to have a hospital bed because of all of the COVID precautions and because of the capacity issues that are present because of the virus," Adams told CNN. And for insight into where the situation is the most dire, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
Even those not at high risk of COVID could be affected by it.
Adams went on to describe how hospitals across the U.S. are currently overwhelmed as they deal with a flood of patients created by surging coronavirus numbers. And while those who are younger or without preexisting conditions that put them at higher risk for severe COVID might not feel as though they have much to worry about, the surgeon general warned that overcrowded ICUs have made it more difficult to contend with everyday issues. "If you have someone going into labor or having a heart attack or who gets into a car accident on an icy road, they may not have a bed because the ICUs are full," he said.
As a result, Adams warned the public that it was important for all to do their part in keeping the pandemic in check. "I want your viewers to know that we need everyone to pull together, take these precautions even if you don't feel at risk from COVID because it has implications in so many other ways," he told CNN. And for more regular coronavirus updates, sign up for our daily newsletter.
He also warned about the arrival of the contagious new COVID strain.
With coronavirus numbers already surging, the U.S. was also treated to more bad news on Dec. 29 when the first case of the highly contagious U.K. variant of the virus was reported in Colorado. The new strain, which scientists say has made the disease 70 percent more transmissible, will likely have an effect on infection rates—but Adams was still optimistic that the right responses can help dull the effects of the new strain.
"It's hard to say if it's widespread or not, but it is here," Adams warned. "[But] we do not, so far, feel that this new strain or these new strains will be resistant to the vaccines or to the therapeutics that we have available. So, that's good news." And for more updates on the new strain, check out The One Scary Thing All 3 Cases of the New COVID Variant Have in Common.
He stressed that now is the time to step up vaccinations.
Despite the risks presented by the new strain and the current surge, Adams was optimistic that we already had the means to overcome this latest challenge. "The bottom line is, we have the tools, regardless of the strain, to be able to defeat this virus," he told CNN. "We just need the will to actually follow through and do the things that we know will help us." How? Adams explained that the contagiousness of the new virus makes everyday health precautions such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand washing even more pivotal, in addition to getting vaccines into people's arms. "It's even more important that we follow these basic public health measures and that we get people vaccinated as quickly as possible," he said. And to find out why the president hasn't been vaccinated, check out The Real Reason President Trump Hasn't Gotten the COVID Vaccine Yet.