Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Fox News host Chris Wallace sparred today over Adams’s choice of words during a Sunday interview on the pandemic shutdown. The conversation provoked an unusual amount of mudslinging online between the two sides of the political aisle.
During the conversation, Adams defended the fact that nine states have not issued shut down orders, and likened the coronavirus to cigarette smoking. Wallace leaped on that comment, saying one is done by choice, the other acquired.
Adams fell into word salad by talking about a report on tobacco cessation released earlier this year. “And we know that states have different laws there. And more people will die, even in the worst projections, from cigarette smoking in this country than are going to die from — from coronavirus this year. And so we always are struggling with trying to get information out to guide people that we know will help them be healthy with states’ rights.”
Wallace countered, “But, Doctor — but, Dr. Adams, there’s a big difference between opioids and cigarettes, which are something that people decide to use or not to use, and the coronavirus, which people catch. It’s not an individual choice. And, you know, when President Trump says that he’s a wartime president, during World War II, FDR didn’t say, “Well, it’s up to each state to decide what to do.” He mobilized the nation. Again, why not a national stay-at-home order? The coronavirus doesn’t recognize states’ rights, so does the federal analogy really work here?
Adams said the governors were intensely protective of their rights. “Well, Chris, I know we could go forever in coronavirus time. But I would remind people that it was just a week ago when the idea of a federal quarantine for the New York City area was being floated, and Governor Cuomo said that would be like declaring war on the state. 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 going to 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.”
Some of the online reactions: