Surgeon General Jerome Adams: Record And Background

Learn about the Surgeon General’s background and what experience he brings to the coronavirus task force.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, answers questions during a virtual Fox News Town Hall Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, answers questions during a virtual Fox News Town Hall Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Who is Surgeon General Jerome Adams?

Dr. Jerome Adams is the 20th Surgeon General of the United States. Holding the rank of Vice Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Adams oversees an estimated 6,500 uniformed health officers in almost 800 locations. While the coronavirus task force was created on January 29, 2020, Adams was not added to the task force until February 26. The Surgeon General’s role on the task force is to bring medical knowledge to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to being appointed Surgeon General, Dr. Adams was the Health Commissioner of Indiana. Adams was Health Commissioner during the largest HIV outbreak in the US attributable to needle injection drug use. Earning a scholarship, Adams holds bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and psychology, a master of public health degree, as well as a medical degree. Dr. Adams is a board-certified anesthesiologist.

What is Jerome Adams’ role on the coronavirus task force?

Jerome Adams’ role on the coronavirus task force is to act as “the nation’s doctor” and advise the American public accordingly to help them respond. His main goal has been to ‘flatten the curve’ the term used when referring to slowing coronavirus cases so the health system doesn’t get too overwhelmed at any one moment in time. Adams appears to be monitoring the spread of the virus in real time, announcing where hot spots of the disease seem to be ramping up around the country.

Dr. Adams has also been publicly echoing the health experts and recommending social distancing, self-quarantining, and telecommuting. The Surgeon General also urged hospitals to postpone elective surgeries and asked for people who are able to donate blood.

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How long has Jerome Adams been Surgeon General?

Dr. Adams was nominated by Trump in June 2017. He was confirmed by the Senate in August of that year and assumed office on September 5, 2017. Adams’ motto for his tenure is “better health through better partnerships.” The opioid crisis affecting the United States has been the focus of much of Adams’ tenure so far, leading Adams to issue a Surgeon General’s Advisory in 2018 calling for more people to carry naloxone, a medicine that can reverse effects of an opioid overdose. He also promotes recovery for opioid addicts.

After chastising the press on Trump’s behalf and demanding “no more criticism”, Adams was condemned for politicizing the position of Surgeon General, most notably by former Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders, who said, “I don’t think it’s the Surgeon General’s place to be scolding the media about politics.” Adams was also taken to task for stating on March 8 that the coronavirus was being contained, while cases rose dramatically in the following days.

After echoing a Trump talking point, Adams received condemnation for stating early in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response that the flu was more worrisome than COVID-19. Said Charlie Brown, the top Democrat on the Indiana House public health committee during the state’s 2015 HIV outbreak, “He [Adams] was right on point with those issues that were impacting health care in Indiana when he was here. But now it is like a different world. It’s unreal. The Jerome Adams that I knew and the one that I see step before the microphone now just does not make any sense.”

What is Jerome Adams’ record as Health Commissioner of Indiana?

Jerome Adams was appointed to Health Commissioner of Indiana by Governor Mike Pence in October 2014. He was reappointed by Governor Holcomb in 2017. In this role, Adams oversaw numerous department for the state of Indiana:

  • Public Health Protection and Laboratory Services
  • Health and Human Services
  • Health Care Quality and Regulatory
  • Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commissions

Adams also sat on several boards and committees: Secretary of Indiana State Department of Health's Executive Board; Chairman of the Indiana State Trauma Care Committee; President of the Healthy Hoosier Foundation; and Co-chairman of the Indiana Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative Governing Council.

Adams led the State’s response to Ebola, Zika, and the Indiana HIV outbreak 2015. After initially opposing on moral grounds a needle exchange to help combat the HIV outbreak, Adams finally relented and encouraged Governor Pence to institute a needle exchange, which turned the tide in that HIV outbreak. The delay likely caused the outbreak to be much worse than if the needle exchange had been instituted weeks earlier.

Personal details and contact information

  • Age: 45
  • Birthday: September 22, 1974
  • Religion: Christian
  • Hometown: Mechanicsville, Maryland
  • Education: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (BA, BS), Indiana University, Indianapolis (MD), University of California, Berkeley (MPH)
  • Spouse: Lacey Adams
  • Twitter: @JeromeAdamsMD or @Surgeon_General
  • Phone: (202) 401-7529
  • Email: [email protected]

The Rantt Rundown

Dr. Jerome Adams has an impressive background, rising from a smart child in a small town to becoming a doctor, then Indiana’s Health Commissioner before achieving Surgeon General. Dr. Adams has led the response to several outbreaks, such as Zika, Ebola, and HIV, and is now on Trump’s coronavirus task force. Adams has faced accolades for his work in Indiana but has since received scorn for his politicization of the non-political office of Surgeon General. Adams is currently providing public guidance on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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