The nation’s top doctor, Surgeon General Jerome Adams resigned Wednesday at the request of President Biden as the new administration sought to make a clean break from former-President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Adams, a trailblazer whose reputation suffered by his association with Trump’s mercurial leadership, sought to take the high road on the way out the door as the nation’s top doctor.
“I hope in 2021 and beyond, we can focus more on what unites us, and rise above what divides us,” said Adams, who was the second Black man in history to serve as surgeon general. “Americans working together can overcome any obstacle or adversary.”
Biden’s transition team informed Adams that the incoming president planned to ask for his resignation as soon as Wednesday.
The new administration wants to signal a completely new approach to fighting the pandemic after more than 400,000 Americans died in 2020.
Adams sought to defend his role as a public face of Trump’s policies.
“I sought to communicate the rapidly evolving science on this deadly adversary, and arm people with the knowledge and tools they needed to stay safe,” Adams wrote. “I was always sincere in my efforts to speak to everyday Americans, and address the terrible health inequities this virus exposed.”
Adams is an anesthesiologist and former Indiana health commissioner who is a close ally of former-Vice President Mike Pence.
Biden planned to name an acting surgeon general as early as Wednesday. He passed over Deputy Surgeon General Erica Schwartz, a career civil servant, who planned to retire in response to the snub.
Biden has nominated Vivek Murthy to be a permanent replacement for Adams as surgeon general. He must be confirmed by the Senate.
Trump abruptly ousted Murthy in 2017, just three years into a term that was supposed to last 10 years.
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