Trump's Surgeon General Says Colin Powell's Death Shows Need for More Vaccinations

Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams has urged unvaccinated people to take the COVID-19 vaccine following the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Adams, who served under former President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021, told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday that Powell had died because "we didn't take the proper measures" to reduce the spread of the virus.

Powell was vaccinated but he was also suffering from multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that affects the white blood cells and can significantly weaken the immune system.

"Colin Powell, he paved the way for all Black people - Democrats, Republicans, independents - to be able to be in these high-profile government positions like secretary of state, like chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, like surgeon general," Adams told Cuomo.

"And I think about that every single time someone asks me, 'Why did you stay?' I think about Colin Powell," he said.

Powell was the first Black person to serve as secretary of state and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

The former surgeon general said he had been "blessed" to speak to Powell "at one of my lowest points."

Earlier in the broadcast, Cuomo had mentioned attempts to question the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in the wake of Powell's death and asked Adams about those claims again.

"We've got people out there who are in the vaccine-resistant crowd," Adams said. "We've got people who have completely different agenda, agendas that have nothing to do with vaccines, and as you mentioned, want to divide us."

Adams discussed COVID-19 breakthrough cases in vaccinated people and pointed out that far more unvaccinated people had died from the virus than vaccinated people. He also noted the issue of co-morbidities in vaccinated people who have died from COVID-19.

"We know a disproportionate number of them have been people with co-morbidities, as General Powell had. So he was someone primed for a breakthrough infection.

"He's someone who did what he was supposed to do. He got vaccinated, but it proves we can't just say we're only going to protect the vulnerable, we're only going to worry about those people getting vaccinated and everyone else doesn't matter," he said.

"We all matter and the fact is that General Powell died because we didn't take the proper measures to lower spread in this country. We didn't do everything that we could."

Adams made a direct appeal to those who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Please, please hear me, for the sake of General Powell and everyone else out there who is vulnerable and who is doing the right thing, please consider getting your vaccine if you haven't yet," he said.

Jerome Adams Takes Off His Mask
Former US Surgeon General Jerome Adams takes off his face mask during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on September 9, 2020 in Washington DC. Adams has urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 following the death of Colin Powell. Michael Reynolds- Pool/Getty Images