Surgeon General Says U.S. Is 'Over the Hump' With COVID, Despite Fauci Calling Latest Data 'Disturbing'

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Monday suggested that America is "over the hump" in its fight against the novel coronavirus, despite Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, calling the latest data "disturbing."

"I know that there is a lot of fatigue," Adams said at a press conference in Bakersfield, California. "I know it feels like this has been going on for forever, but honestly, we are I think over the hump."

According to the Bakersfield Californian, Adams also spoke about the importance of wearing masks and social distancing to mitigate the spread of the virus, while visiting a COVID-19 testing site at the Kern County fairgrounds.

"It's important to understand, we don't have to wait until we get a vaccine to drive down community transmission," Adams said, according to the local newspaper. "If you all take the measures now to lower community spread—wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance—we could very quickly get into a better situation in safely reopening."

His comments come shortly after Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, disagreed with President Donald Trump, who made remarks similar to the ones by Adams. Trump nominated Adams for surgeon general in June 2017.

While speaking to reporters at the White House on Thursday, Trump stated that he believes the U.S. is "rounding the corner" with the virus.

A day later, Fauci spoke with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell about the president's comments and said he had to disagree.

"I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with that because if you look at the thing that you just mentioned, the statistics, Andrea, they're disturbing," Fauci said. "We're plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000."

U.S. Surgeon General
From left, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins appear before a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on September 9. Pool/Getty

According to a tracking map from Johns Hopkins University, daily cases of the novel coronavirus peaked in July, when the U.S. reported nearly 70,000 cases per day. Fauci noted the U.S. has reported around 30,000 to 40,000 cases per day since the beginning of September.

There are currently over 6.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the tracker, and at least 194,547 deaths.

While speaking at the testing facility, Adams also suggested that the U.S. needs to move away from the idea of "health versus the economy."

"Several business owners brought up their concerns about their need to get businesses open, and I share those concerns with them. And I said, the quickest way to get businesses open is to drive down community transmission rates," Adams said, according to the Bakersfield Californian.

In an email sent to Newsweek, a spokesperson for the surgeon general wrote that "Dr. Adams' comments were in regard to the uptick in cases California saw over the summer, and their recent and ongoing mitigation efforts."

"During the press event, he went on to discuss the trends related to positivity rates and fatalities, as well as express optimism regarding the progress on treatments and a vaccine. He also encouraged everyone to continue their efforts—not to let their foot off the gas pedal—as we approach flu season," the email stated.

Updated September 15, 2020, 1:11 p.m. ET, to include a statement from a spokesperson for the U.S. surgeon general.