The rules apply to everybody in Hawaii, even a U.S. Surgeon General.
In August, a police officer patrolling the Kualoa Regional Park discovered three men taking pictures near the shore on Oahu’s northeastern coast. During different times, this would have been fine, but the park was closed that day due to the island’s pandemic restrictions.
Among those three men was the “Nation’s Doctor”— U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who informed the officer he was visiting the state to work directly with Hawaii Governor Davide Ige (D). It’s unknown if the officer knew who Adams was. Regardless, he was unmoved and cited all three for their violation.
When the officer spotted the three men on August 23, he observed them walking around the park and snapping pictures. In his report, he said Adams put a mask back on before going into his vehicle.
Three days after the Surgeon General’s citation, he stood beside Mayor Kirk Caldwell (D) to address the rise in COVID cases. “We’re seeing cases continue to go up, we’re seeing positivity continue to go up,” Adams said at an Aug. 26 news conference, noting his support for the mayor’s stay-at-home order at the time. “That’s why we’re calling on all of you to cooperate.”
According to the Washington Post, Adams is scheduled to appear at a remote court date on October 21 to answer to the charges on his violation of the emergency orders put in place. He faces a misdemeanor offense that could lead to a $5,000 fine and/or a year in jail, the Associated Press reported.
A spokesperson for Adams declined to discuss the case with the outlet; however, an attorney on his behalf told AP the surgeon didn’t realize the park was off-limits.
“During his visit to Oahu, the surgeon general was cited for accidentally violating the mayor’s emergency order, due to his misunderstanding of the law,” Lex Smith, an attorney in Honolulu, said in a statement to the AP. “He has not asked for, nor has he received any special treatment in connection with this citation and will respond to it appropriately.”
Adams is part of the Trump administration, which has recently been accused of not taking the pandemic seriously; claims that have been further supported when the coronavirus outbreak spread among 18 individuals in the White House (among those diagnosed were Donald Trump and his wife).
However, unlike some other officials who are more likely to face a criminal case for violating the virus restrictions, the 46-year-old anesthesiologist may get a break. In fact, Adams is known for being obedient to the rules and, at one point, refused to cross an abandoned street until the light gave the go-ahead.
But, unfortunately, he isn’t a favorite among Americans. He was slammed for his “leadership” role since the beginning of the pandemic. He tweeted a poem in February, which suggested that the flu was a more serious concern than the coronavirus that has taken the lives of 210,000 Americans.
In April, he was criticized for making racially insensitive statements urging minority groups to take the virus more seriously, The Post reports. But, he has also encouraged people to wear masks and has put his own self at risk by traveling to coronavirus hotspots to urge communities to heed the advice on health and safety guidelines—which is why he was in Hawaii.
Hawaii has had roughly 13,000 cases and 160 deaths as of Wednesday. Adams traveled to the state during a time where coronavirus cases were on the rise.