Surgeon General: I Have Asthma, Heart Disease, and Prediabetes - I’m at Higher Risk for Coronavirus

By Melanie Arter | April 10, 2020 | 2:22pm EDT
(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday that he is at higher risk for coronavirus, because he has a history of asthma, heart disease, and prediabetes.

“I grew up poor, Ike grew up black in a majority white area, and I grew up with asthma. I have heart disease. I have prediabetes right now, and so even though I look healthy, even though I look thin, I actually am at higher risk for coronavirus,” he said.

Adams said you can’t look at someone and tell if they’re at risk for COVID-19. 

“We know communities of color are particularly at risk for being impacted, because there's a higher incidence of chronic disease, of diabetes, of heart disease and lung disease, but also because of what we call the social determinants of health, the opportunities that people have to be healthy,” he said.

“We know 1 in 5 African Americans, 1 in 6 Latinos have the ability to telework, so the very things we’re telling people to do, many communities can't do. We know they are also more likely to live in multigenerational housing or in densely packed urban areas, so again, that makes it harder to social distance,” the surgeon general said.

“So we from this administration when you look at the bills that have been passed have been looking at addressing housing, income security, food security - the things that give people the chance to make healthy choices so that again, we can lift up everyone,” he added.

Adams said that the social distancing campaign is actually working and that Washington state and California has had a flat curve for several weeks now.

“It's actually been pretty amazing what they've been able to accomplish. In New York and New Jersey, hospitalizations are leveling off, and we know that this is because of the spirit of the American people and their cooperation with the stay-at-home guidelines that we put out from the coronavirus task force,” he said.

When asked whether the curve is flattening when looking at the entire country, Adams said, “As Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and I have said constantly, this is going to be different in different places. New York will look different and then California, New Orleans or Nebraska. We aren't going to be able to say as a nation that a particular thing is happening, but what's promising is it seems like we are hitting a peak in terms of deaths for the country. 

“We don't want people to think that means that they’re off the hook, they can stop social distancing, because some places have not yet had their peak. Indianapolis, where I’m from, is on an upswing,” he said.

“And so we want them to be particularly cautious, but the reassuring news again is that some places have leveled off and are on the downslope, and we hope that within a few weeks once we get past this 30 days some places around the country can start thinking about reopening,” the surgeon general said.

When asked whether May 1st is a realistic timetable for reopening the country, Adams said, “While we are going to be data driven. I absolutely agree with Dr. Fauci. Now is the time for us to continue to lean into this, because we know that the more we participate in social distancing, the flatter the curve is, and the quicker we can get to the other side. 

“There are places around the country that has seen consistently low levels. As we ramp up testing and can feel more confident that these places actually can do surveillance and can do public health follow-up. Some places will be able to think about opening on May 1st. Most of the country will not, to be honest with you, but some will, and that's how we’ll reopen the country - place by place, bit by bit based on the data,” he said.

The surgeon general advised people on what to do to stay healthy despite the isolation.

“I'm incredibly concerned about the health implications of our COVID-19 responses. Yes social distancing is good to stop the spread of COVID, but we know that isolation is bad for almost every other disease you can name out there - depression, domestic violence, heart disease, all these things are worse - substance issues, and if so what I tell people to do is a number of things,” he said.

“Number one make sure you are focusing on eating well, Try to get in those vegetables. Exercise when you can. You can do an online class or you can do push-ups, sit ups or air squats, that's what I do at home. Make sure you are taking time to meditate and pray and make sure you're taking her medication,” Adams added.

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