Hamil R. HarrisHealth

Black U.S. Surgeon General: Coronavirus Kits ‘Available for Virus Testing’

Local Colleges Extend Spring Breaks, Modify Academic Calendars

As the coronavirus continues to spread like wildfire across America, precipitously upon the heels of even higher cases of deaths and infections worldwide, the Trump-appointed United States Surgeon General has emerged as one of the dominant voices for the White House while U.S. officials in cities large and small struggle to contain the surging health crisis.

In a Sunday morning interview on CNN, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, an African American from southern Maryland, said the number of coronavirus test kits available to the public will increase from 75,000 to 4 million by week’s end, seeking to downplay allegations that health care officials remained stymied due to an inadequate number of kits.

“But the most important number to the American people is one,” he said. “People want to know that if they’re fearful about their status and desire to be tested, that there will be a kit available.”

While President continues to paint unrealistic, positive predictions to counter an increasingly skeptical public, Adams remains part of a chorus of federal officials from the U.S. Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control [CDC] working around the clock to respond to a medical pandemic that grows worse with every passing hour.

Adams, who says he’s been camped out in the White House situation room since the severity of the crisis became evident, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that upon asking the president during a recent conversation if he’d washed his hands, Trump replied that he had “a little earlier.”
While the numbers change daily, as of March 10, the CDC confirmed more than 971 cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and 30 deaths.

Globally, the situation has grown far more grave with the World Health Organization reporting more than 119.000 confirmed cases and 4,269 deaths, again as of March 10.

Churches, Hospitals and Colleges Taking Precautions

On Sunday, an Episcopal church in the District suspended all Sunday activities after one of its senior leaders became the first person in the nation’s capital to test positive for the coronavirus. The Rev. Timothy Cole, rector of Christ Church in Georgetown, remains in stable condition after being hospitalized Saturday night, according to a statement from the Rev. Crystal Hardin, the assistant rector.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Christ Church has canceled all activities including church services until further notice. We recommend that concerned community members contact their health care providers,” the statement said.

Health officials said Sunday said they had determined as part of their investigation that “an individual’s visitation to Christ Church Georgetown warrants precautionary measures” and they recommended a temporary halt to services.

According to the Associated Press, a second person tested positive in the District – a man visiting from Nigeria – and has been hospitalized – D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said during a press conference Monday.

In the Greater Washington Area, hospitals, HMOs and nursing homes have now begun screening everyone at their front doors, from visitors and law enforcement to staff and employees for the coronavirus.

Changes have also come to colleges and universities in the region, with officials leading schools which include the University of Maryland, Howard University, Towson State University and Morgan State University in Baltimore extending spring breaks, canceling scheduled travel plans for students, contemplating the cancellation of upcoming sports competitions, the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments most significantly and revising current academic calendars with the possibility of classes being held remotely.

At Morgan State, Kevin Banks, Vice President of Student Affairs, talked to a group of students in the School of Global Journalism and Communications where he pointed them to sources to which they could refer if they wanted more information about the virus and how to protect themselves.

“The best thing you can do for now is to wash your hands frequently and see your health care provider if you exhibit any symptoms,” he said.

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Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

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