U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is pleading for all citizens to treat the coronavirus pandemic as a serious matter.

By Eric Todisco
March 23, 2020 01:44 PM
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U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is pleading for all citizens to treat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as a serious matter.

Adams told Today‘s Savannah Guthrie on Monday that many people are not abiding to the practice of “social distancing,” which the CDC has strongly recommended to stop the virus’ spread.

“Right now, there are not enough people out there taking this seriously,” said Adams, 45. “You see it in California, people on the beaches. We need to take this seriously.”

“We see here in D.C. — the district set up a cam for people to watch the cherry blossoms — [but] you look on the cam, you see more people walking around than you see cherry blossoms and this is how the spread is occurring. We really need to stay home.”

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

Adams added that the pandemic is “going to get bad” in the next week and urged all Americans to “come together as a nation.”

“Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now,” Adams said. “Test or no test, we need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else or you could be getting it from someone else.”

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, many U.S. citizens have chosen to ignore recommendations from health and government officials. Last week, images surfaced of Clearwater Beach in West Florida packed with spring breakers.

Footage from Naples, Florida showed a similar scene of vacationers filling the swath of sand.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty

Ft. Lauderdale and Miami previously announced that they would be completely closing their beaches to combat the spread. Fort Lauderdale’s closure is in effect through at least April 12, while Miami Beach officials said theirs will remain in effect until at least March 19.

As of Monday afternoon, March 23, there have been at least 33,018 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 428 deaths, according to the New York Times.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.