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Surgeon General Jerome Adams resigns to make way for Biden nominee

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, D.C., on December 8, 2020. Adams resigned on Wednesday at the request of new President Joe Biden. File Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, D.C., on December 8, 2020. Adams resigned on Wednesday at the request of new President Joe Biden. File Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Wednesday stepped down from his post at the request of new President Joe Biden.

Adams, an anesthesiologist and former Indiana health commissioner, was confirmed by the Senate in late 2017 to serve a four-year term as surgeon general as an appointee of President Donald Trump. His resignation Wednesday cuts short his tenure by about six months.

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Adams was the second African American in the role, and became a spokesperson for public health measures to fight COVID-19. He received some criticism from Democrats who said he could have done more to stop Trump from downplaying the pandemic.

"I've been asked by the Biden team to step down as surgeon general," Adams tweeted early Wednesday, while urging Americans to follow public health guidelines. "It's been the honor of my life to serve this nation, and I will do all I can to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve and maintain health."

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In a statement posted to Facebook, Adams addressed his tenure, which he said spanned a range of issues prior to the pandemic, including dealing with hurricane relief and the opioid crisis. He also called COVID-19 a "once in a century pandemic."

"I sought to communicate the rapidly evolving science on the deadly adversary, and arm people with the knowledge and tools they needed to stay safe," he said.

"I wasn't always right -- because no one was, and this virus continues to humble all of us -- but I was always sincere in my efforts to speak to everyday Americans, and address the terrible health inequities this virus exposed."

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Biden previously announced that Dr. Vivek Murthy, who was U.S. surgeon general under former President Barack Obama, will replace Adams in the post. He must be confirmed by the Senate.

An acting surgeon general will assume the post until Murthy is confirmed.

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