Dr. Osterholm: “I think that the Surgeon General's comments were absolutely irresponsible"


One of the leading experts in the COVID-19 pandemic thinks that this could be this generation’s Pearl Harbor and 9-11. He is also challenging the words of the United States Surgeon General. 

“I want to stop this pandemic. It’s horrible. But we’ve got to use science-based to do it,” said former state epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm when asked about statements and recommendations from the federal level made by health care colleagues.

While he knows that there are plenty of suggestions, he feels have they no scientific backing.

“I know I’ll get tons of calls and emails that I don’t care,” said Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “I care. I just don’t want people to be lulled into a false sense of security."

Osterholm’s comments came Monday on the WCCO Morning News with Dave Lee. They came a day after US Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams said on FOX News that the coming week would be difficult in the growing pandemic, with confirmed cases mounting and the number of fatalities getting larger.

“This is not for the next couple of weeks,” said Osterholm. “I think that the Surgeon General's comments were absolutely irresponsible. We’re just in the beginning of the long haul."

Osterholm also said talk of using available drugs in the immediate future to treat sick patients is also premature.

“I do believe that we will have some therapies down the road that are going to improve patients’ outcome,” he said, noting that necessary testing is already underway with his team at the U of M and elsewhere.

“People are doing this with urgent speed to try to understand what might work or if anything will, and whether or not it’s safe,” he said.

What Osterholm said he knows for a fact that wearing cloth masks makes little difference.

“Very tiny particles, every time you breathe, they come out of the side, just the same as if you were not wearing one,” he said.

The fact the US Center for Disease Control encouraged Americans to wear cloth masks was a stunner for Osterholm.

“It basically was more political theatre than it’s real,” he said, reacting to suggestions that the CDC was forced to make the cloth mask recommendation by the White House. “For the first time in my career, ever, did I ever see a recommendation put on the CDC site with no data to support it. That is not what we need right now. We need science-based activities. I want people to be protected.”