U.S. Surgeon General and former Indiana state health commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams made a visit to Allen County Friday to discuss the local and federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Adams says the federal government uses a three-color scale to determine the significance of COVID-19 to various counties: green is 5% positivity rate of the disease or lower, yellow is between 5-10%, and red is 10% or higher.
Allen County’s rate sits at 11.6%, placing them in the “red” along with Marion County.
Despite the mixed messages at the national level regarding mask wearing, Adams urges everyone to do so to bring local numbers down.
“This should not be political,” Adams said. “This is not taking away your rights or your freedoms; as a matter of fact, this is a tool to freedom because if we don’t do the things that will lower spread, more places will be forced to close.”
He says he also supports local officials adopting mask mandates if they choose, and praised Governor Eric Holcomb for his decision to do so in late July.
As Indiana school districts wrestle with the best ways to reopen — even if they should — Adams says communities will have to make their decisions on a case-by-case basis.
“We’re in the danger zone in terms of positivity rates, and if you want schools to stay open and you want to keep playing sports, we need everyone to take on the small inconveniences of wearing a mask, washing their hands, and watching their distance,” he said.
He added that the federal government is still hopeful for a COVID-19 vaccine “by the end of this year or early next year.”
The Surgeon General is optimistic that, if everyone does their part, Allen County’s time in the “danger zone” doesn’t have to last long.
“We can drive down community transmission here in Allen County in two to four weeks, that’s the disease course. What we do today will be reflected in cases two weeks from now and hospitalizations three to four weeks from now.”
Adams’s appearance in Allen County comes the same day Attorney General Curtis Hill called on Governor Eric Holcomb to call a special session of the Indiana legislature to specifically address the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19.