Coronavirus pandemic heading into 'hardest, saddest week' of most Americans' lives: surgeon general

'This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment,' Dr. Jerome Adams says

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During an interview on "Fox News Sunday," U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Chris Wallace that this upcoming week is going to be the most difficult moment of the coronavirus epidemic.

"This is going to be the hardest and saddest week of most American's lives," Adams said. "This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country."

Adams speaks at the White House Friday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Adams pointed out, however, that the public, along with the state and the federal government, has the power to "change the trajectory of this epidemic" as long as they follow the administration's social distancing guidelines, which President Trump has now extended until April 30.

"As hard as this week is going to be, there is a light at the end of the tunnel if everyone does their part for the next 30 days," he said.


President Trump listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House Saturday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Wallace pointed out that director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force Dr. Anthony Fauci supports invoking a national stay-at-home order to help mitigate the spread of the virus, but so far President Trump has been reluctant to do so. Currently, nine states have not yet issued a stay-at-home order: Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. 

But Adams argues that people across the country are already doing the right thing, even without a national stay-at-home order.

"It's important to understand that most people across the country are doing the right thing," Adams said. "Over 90 percent of the country is staying at home and a good proportion, more than average, are staying home even in those nine states."

Adams added the national social distancing guidelines put out by the administration to slow the spread of the coronavirus are "essentially our national stay at home order" and that the administration is working with governors to figure out how to best serve their individual needs.

"The governors are intensely protective of their right, and rightly so, to be able to decide what's best for their states, and we're gonna do everything we can as scientists, and as physicians, as medical professionals, to help them understand what we think the right thing is for them to do," Adams said. "I just want everyone to know from a national perspective, the surgeon general is saying: no matter where you are, stay at home. At least give us a week or two, if you can. We want you to do it for 30 days but even in those nine states, give us what you can so we can get this peak and start to come down on the other side."


People wear masks as they wait in line at Costco Saturday in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Adams stressed that if people choose to go out, it is imperative that they protect those around them by covering their face.

"If you're going out in public and you're going to be closer than 6 feet to other people, you can use a cloth facial covering" he said. "We want people to understand you're wearing this not to protect yourself, you're using this to protect your neighbor."


Ultimately, he says that this next week will test the American people's resolve, but he's confident that they will push through.

"It's going to be a test of our resolve, it's going to be the test of our lives, but I'm confident that we can come out on the other side based on the data, and based on what I know about the American people."

The coronavirus task force's projections predict between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could lose their lives from the coronavirus, even if social distancing measures are strictly followed.