5 things to know from Surgeon General Jerome Adams

U.S.' top doctor on future of coronavirus fight

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told the "CBS Evening News" on Monday that he's "hopeful" the U.S. will have fewer than the originally projected deaths from COVID-19. This came after Dr. Adams had painted a grim picture over the weekend, telling Fox News "this is  going to be the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives, quite frankly," and "this is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment." Here are our top takeaways from that interview:

1. On risk factors for different demographics

Emerging data shows that the fatality rate for black Americans with COVID-19 is higher than for other ethnic and racial groups. This is particularly pronounced in Chicago, where public radio station WBEZ found that African Americans made up 70% of fatal COVID-19 cases, but only 29% of the general population. "In far too many communities, being black is a risk factor for complications from COVID-19," Dr. Adams said.

2. Data shows a "glimmer of hope" for New York and New Jersey

On Monday, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the curve in the state may be beginning to flatten. Dr. Adams told us, "This is the first glimmer of hope for New York, New Jersey, and we hope that the trend continues, but it's going to mean that everyone has to keep doing their part.

3. Will the U.S. reach the projected 100,000-240,000 deaths?

After promising news out of New York that the curve could be flattening, Dr. Adams suggested that the U.S. may not reach the projected 100,000-240,000 deaths from COVID-19. "I am hopeful that we won't reach that peak," he told us. "And I'm hopeful because the projections that we have been working with were based on data from other countries. We are seeing more and more data come in from the United States and that's been forming these projections in a new and better way."

4. On therapeutic treatments for COVID-19

As politicians and public health officials debate possible treatments for COVID-19, Dr. Adams told us "I don't think that this epidemic is going to be ended by a miracle drug or therapeutic."

"You're not going to treat your way out of this problem, you're not going to supply or ventilate your way out of this problem," he said. "The way we get out of this problem is by lowering demand. It's by good, old-fashioned public health. I don't want people to take their eyes off the fact that the most important thing right now is mitigation and social distancing and good hygiene."

5. On emerging hotspots and national capacity to respond

As the situations in New York and New Jersey show signs of possible improvement, we asked the Surgeon General which cities are emerging as potential problem areas with respect to the virus. "We know New Orleans has not hit their peak yet. They're a hotspot," Dr. Adams said. "We know that Michigan is really struggling, particularly in the Detroit area. … And from a supply point of view, we send a lot of our supplies and resources to New York, once they hit their peak, they will be redeployed to other areas, and we ultimately can't afford to have 15, 20, 30 hotspots at once because that could overwhelm our ability to be able to respond."