Former Trump surgeon general says politicians are 'taking tools' away from public health offices

Former Trump surgeon general says politicians are 'taking tools' away from public health offices
© getty: Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams

Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsFormer surgeon general: 'Unconscionable' for states to ban mask mandates Former Trump surgeon general says politicians are 'taking tools' away from public health offices Pence urges young conservatives to get COVID-19 vaccine MORE said that politicians are “taking tools” away from public health offices to be able to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Adams made the comment during an interview on “Full Court Press" with Greta Van Susteren set to air Sunday. The former Trump administration official was asked who he felt had the authority to mandate masks in schools.

“The authority, whether we like it or not, and I think this is appropriate for most public health measures, lies at the local and state level,” Adams said.

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“What really bothers me, and I mean really bothers me, are these officials, these politicians who are taking tools out of the hands of public health offices,” he continued.

Adams’s comments come as the nation continues to see a surge coronavirus infections fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant first identified in India. Cases are particularly high in unvaccinated pockets of the United States including in Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. 

However, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsGOP senators say Biden COVID-19 strategy has 'exacerbated vaccine hesitancy' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in Travel industry hopes for rebound with loosened COVID-19 restrictions MORE said Thursday that these states have seen a rise in vaccination rates amid surging cases. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its mask guidance late last month advising fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks in areas of “substantial” or “high” COVID-19 transmission.

But several states with GOP governors, such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, have issued directives barring masks requirements in schools and other places.

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Arkansas Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonDozens of Republican governors call for meeting with Biden on border surge The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden's .5 trillion plan will likely have to shrink Sunday shows - Manchin says he won't vote for .5 trillion bill MORE (R), who signed a ban on mask mandates in schools, said Tuesday that he regretted signing such mandate, and has been urging the state legislature to reverse the order.

The delta variant, a highly transmissible strain which has been identified in breakthrough infections, has fueled vaccine mandates by private companies, cities and several states. But, public health officials say that the inoculation still protects people from severe infection, hospitalization and death. 

While Adams acknowledged that some people don’t like wearing masks, he said “don't send your soldiers into war without their bulletproof vests.”

“I understand you don't like masks; I understand you don't like vaccine verifications, but don't send your soldiers into war without their bulletproof vests. You'd never sent a police officer out into the field without a weapon. Don't take weapons away indiscriminately from public health officials,” he said.