Trump’s surgeon general ridiculed for claiming president is healthy ‘despite rarely sleeping’

Top medical official is asked whether Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are too elderly to risk coronavirus exposure

Andrew Naughtie
Monday 09 March 2020 16:36
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US Surgeon General celebrates Donald Trump's health amid coronavirus outbreak

The Trump administration’s surgeon general has been ridiculed for suggesting Donald Trump is healthier than he is – even though the president is nearly 30 years his senior.

Appearing on CNN, Jerome Adams was being interviewed about the government’s advice to Americans as the coronavirus outbreak continues.

“The three people who might be president in January 2021 – president Trump, senator Sanders and vice president Biden – all of them are in their seventies, they have had various health questions. Should those three stop travelling? Should they stop holding rallies?”

In response, Dr Adams reassured viewers of Mr Trump’s health: “I was with the president on Friday and I said ‘sir, when was the last time you washed your hands?’ and he said, ‘I just washed my hands a few minutes ago ...’

“The president – he sleeps less than I do and he’s healthier than what I am.”

The response from many quarters was incredulous. “Is not sleeping a sign of good health?” asked Matthew Yglesias. The Daily Beast’s Matt Willstein wrote “First, do no harm (to the president’s massive ego)”.

Others pointed out the that if Dr Adams is in worse health than Mr Trump, he must be in poor health indeed.

Responding to the fallout on Twitter, Mr Adams said that he “should not have made this comparison” – and that he takes “five times as many meds as the president reportedly does”.

The septuagenarian Mr Trump has long been suspected to be vulnerable to various health problems, in particular given his weight and famously vegetable-free diet (which sees him consume as many as 12 cans of Diet Coke per day).

In 2015, as his campaign built up a head of steam, Mr Trump’s doctor released a euphoric report on his health in which he called Mr Trump’s physical strength and stamina “extraordinary” and described his test results “astonishingly excellent”.

“If elected, Mr Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” read the letter.

However, in 2018, the doctor behind the letter revealed that Mr Trump had in fact dictated it. He described it as a piece of “black humour”.

Mr Adams served as Indiana’s state health commissioner under then-governor Mike Pence, who as vice president has now been tapped by Mr Trump to oversee the government’s response to the coronavirus epidemic despite his lack of public health expertise.

While Mr Pence was governor of Indiana, he was forced to respond to an HIV outbreak in the southeast of the state. He was accused of overseeing an unduly slow response because of his views on needle exchanges. Hundreds of people were ultimately infected.

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