Fox News’ Chris Wallace Challenges Surgeon General for Downplaying Coronavirus Compared to Smoking, Opioid Deaths

“Fox News Sunday” anchor pressed Jerome Adams on why Trump has not issued a national stay-at-home order

Last Updated: April 5, 2020 @ 3:07 PM

“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace denounced U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams Sunday when the Trump appointee compared the coronavirus crisis to smoking and opioid usage.

While governors of 42 U.S. states have issued stay-at-home orders for their residents to prevent the spread of the virus, Utah, Arkansas, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska and South Carolina — all with Republican governors — have held out, even as some have ordered non-essential businesses to close.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the heads of the Trump Administration’s coronavirus task force, has spoken in favor of a national stay-at-home order, yet Trump has refused to issue one.

“The coronavirus is not a state issue; it doesn’t follow or respect state borders. Dr. Fauci says he believes there should be a national stay-at-home order. Is he wrong?” Wallace asked Adams.

After saying that even residents of states without a stay-at-home order are still following guidelines from the Center of Disease Control, Adams then compared the coronavirus crisis to smoking and opioid usage, saying that states have different laws on cigarettes and drugs and that “more people will die even in the worst projections from cigarette smoking in this country than are going to die from coronavirus this year.”

Wallace challenged that comparison. “There’s a big difference between opioids and cigarettes, which are something that people decide to use or not to use, and the coronavirus, which people catch. It’s not an individual choice,” he responded.

“And you know, when President Trump says that he is a wartime president, during World War II, FDR didn’t say, ‘Well, it’s up to each state to decide what to do.’ He mobilized the nation. Again, why not a national stay-at-home order? The coronavirus doesn’t recognize states’ rights, so does the federal analogy really work here?” Wallace pressed.

Adams replied by saying that governors are “intensely protective of their right to be able to decide what’s best for their states,” but that he and federal public health officials would “do everything we can” to advise them.

Watch the exchange between Wallace and Adams in the clip above.