Surgeon general cited for taking pictures in Hawaii park closed to prevent virus spread
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams received a criminal citation from police in Honolulu earlier this year after entering a closed state park to take pictures, according to The Associated Press.
The AP reported that Adams will make a virtual court appearance over the citation. An aide to the surgeon general, Dennis Anderson-Villaluz, was also reportedly cited.
A spokesperson for Adams’s office declined to comment to the AP. An attorney apparently representing Adams told the news service that his client had not asked for “special treatment” when receiving the citation in August.
“During his visit to Oahu, the surgeon general was cited for accidentally violating the mayor’s emergency order, due to his misunderstanding of the law. He has not asked for, nor has he received, any special treatment in connection with this citation, and will respond to it appropriately,” Lex Smith told the AP.
Adams and his aide reportedly told Honolulu police that they were unaware of the park’s closure. Gov. David Ige (D) began closing some state parks in March due to COVID-19 concerns and announced the closure of all Oahu parks at a news conference in the first week of August, around the time Adams and Anderson-Villaluz were issued citations, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
“This is the last thing that we wanted to do,” Ige said at the time. “We have endured several months of restrictions and had been successful. But as we reopened our community, people let their guard down.”
“We intend to reopen parks and facilities as soon as the novel coronavirus is no longer a threat. These steps are being taken to protect all visitors and constituents, as well as our staff, while maintaining a high level of service,” Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources previously said in March.
Numerous officials in the Trump administration have faced criticism for publicly flouting local COVID-19 regulations, scrutiny which has ramped up in recent days following an outbreak of coronavirus at the White House that infected numerous people, including President Trump and first lady Melania Trump.