Skip the predictions, and focus on stopping virus now, top Pentagon doctor says

Military medical chief says nation must continue with efforts to contain pandemic

Image
Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs, Joint Staff Surgeon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon press secretary Alyssah Farah at the Pentagon.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, Joint Staff Surgeon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, DOD press secretary Alyssah Farah at Pentagon coronavirus briefing
(Department of Defense)
Last Updated:
March 25, 2020 - 4:47pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Videos

The nation should focus not on predicting an end date for the coronavirus pandemic, but on aggressively containing the outbreak now, the nation’s top military medical official said.

“Worry about today,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs, Joint Staff Surgeon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a Wednesday briefing at the Pentagon. “If we stop doing the right thing today based on what we think will happen in a few weeks,” the outbreak will not subside, he warned.

Friedrichs appeared on the dais alongside Pentagon press secretary Alyssah Farah. While the briefing was geared toward the military’s response to the pandemic, Friedrichs also addressed national control measures overall.

Officials cannot forecast beyond three weeks what will happen regarding the pandemic inside the United States, Friedrichs said. But, he noted, “We think we're going to see this grow.”

Nor can officials predict the path of the next epicenter, he said.

“We don't know where the next outbreak is going to be,” Friedrichs said. Significant challenges remain ahead for the entire U.S. medical community. “The health care system across the United States is not geared toward a pandemic.”

The best way to limit the spread is to continue with measures already in place, he said. These include social distancing, and curtailing travel to include spring break.

I do believe we are going to be successful limiting or mitigating this outbreak,” Friedrichs said. “To get there requires all of us to take this seriously.”