Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams, M.D., is the 20th surgeon general of the United States. He is a board-certified anesthesiologist with a master’s degree in public health and a member of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force. Before being selected for his current position, he served as the Indiana health commissioner from 2014 to 2017. The opinion expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinions on CNN.
(CNN)Since being named to the coronavirus task force, I’ve quickly made a few observations. It is clear we must continue to help Americans understand how to protect themselves, but also that we mustn’t recreate the wheel. To address the disease outbreak, we can rely on tried-and-true planning and preparation that was begun long ago.
While the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, can be scary, Americans should remember we’ve experienced other disease outbreaks that we not only managed but overcame. With each occurrence we learned and strengthened our preparedness for the next. Our history with these outbreaks gives us confidence that we have the knowledge, tools and talent to address COVID-19.
We have the very best medical experts and scientists working with Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, all taking the necessary steps to protect the public. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Bob Redfield, is an internationally recognized clinical virologist. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is a world-renowned and respected immunologist who has helped our country navigate viral outbreaks in the past. While we must not become complacent, the public can be assured that we have the best scientific team in the world working day and night to keep our country safe.
Part of my job as surgeon general is to communicate the best available science to the American people — and that includes how we as a country, as communities and individuals, should act to stay healthy. This is especially important as we see more potential community spread and the US response broadens to include both a focus on containment of the virus and