U.S. Surgeon General takes part in roundtable at University Hospitals to discuss coronavirus pandemic


CLEVELAND (WJW) — The United States Surgeon General spent the day in Northeast Ohio Thursday, urging people to remain hopeful while facing an increasingly severe coronavirus pandemic. 

Dr. Jerome Adams met with local leaders where they also discussed vaccines and the role a Cleveland hospital could play in helping end the pandemic.

“What I’m asking the people of Ohio to do is to really, really focus on taking the measures that will allow us to bend the curve,” said Dr. Adams.

The Surgeon General says it is not too late to stop the troubling spike of coronavirus cases in Ohio and across the country.  He and Eric Hargan, Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services talked about COVID and other medical issues during a roundtable discussion with medical and government leaders at University Hospitals in Cleveland Thursday afternoon.

“We absolutely do not want to shut down the country again and that is not part of our plan, but we need your help, we need you to understand that this here, this mask, is an instrument to freedom, this is how we stay open,” said Dr. Adams.

Dr. Adams says more people are wearing masks in public, but says the virus is spreading because people are too relaxed at social gatherings with family and friends.

“Now, instead of staying just within our immediate family group, we’re inviting our cousin to come in and join us, we’re hanging out with the neighbors, and we know that when bubbles expand too quickly they pop,” he said.

University Hospitals also announced they have been chosen to take part in a phase three clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine.

UH, along with Case Western Reserve University will be one of 80 sites in the country to study AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 candidate, and call on Northeast Ohio residents to volunteer.

The hospital teamed up with Pfizer for a separate vaccine trial in August.

“Anybody who thinks we’re cutting corners, I can tell you what I’ve seen, we’ve never done as good of a job as far as safety of a vaccine, as cautious of a job as with the COVID vaccines,” said Dr. Grace McComsey, Vice President of Research at UH and a professor at the CWRU School of Medicine.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams says he expects a vaccine by the end of 2020, but says until then, it’s up to us to keep COVID under control.

“Right now, the fire isn’t as hot as it is across the rest of the country, but we continue to pour kerosene on the fire and it’s gonna be blazing soon… and that’s why the Deputy Secretary and I are here, because there’s still time to put out the fire if people wear a mask, wash their hands and watch their distance,” he said.

Dr. Adams also says this is the most important flu season of our lives.

“We had 500,000 people hospitalized with the flu last year, we cannot afford to have 500,000 people on top of COVID taking up beds,” he insisted. “39 million people were diagnosed with the flu in the United States last year, we cannot afford to have 39 million people with fevers, with coughs, with runny noses…causing  schools to shut down, causing your workplace to shut down, causing you to live in fear and you have to be quarantined because we don’t know whether it’s flu or whether it’s COVID.”

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