Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Monday begged Fox News viewers to "do the right thing" and wear masks in public as America struggles to contain the coronavirus.
Dr. Adams displayed a black facial covering during his appearance on the network's popular morning show "Fox & Friends," telling viewers this routine action is the nation's best hope at controlling the virus.
"It relies on the individual people of America doing the right thing, and that's why I’m pleading with your viewers, I’m begging you: Please understand that we are not trying to take away your freedoms when we say wear a face covering,” Dr. Adams said.
"We're not trying to take away your ability to go out when we say keep restaurant capacity under 50 percent. We're saying if we do these things, we can actually open and stay open. We can get back to school, to worship, to jobs. We can do this. And I'm a hopeless optimist. But I really do believe Americans will do the right thing."
If all Americans wore masks while outside and maintained social distancing, the virus could be controlled within two months, Dr. Adams said.
"We can completely turn this around," he said. "It is pretty simple."
Despite the calls of public health officials to don facial coverings in public, its practice falls along partisan lines, according to pollsters.
Gallup reported last week that 44 percent of U.S. adults said they "always" wore masks in public and 14 percent said they "never" do.
But only 24 percent of Republicans said they "always" donned facial coverings and 27 percent of them told pollsters they "never" do. Among Democrats, it was 61 percent "always" and 1 percent "never."
There have been about 3.8 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and at least 141,455 American deaths connected to the pandemic, according to the latest data compiled by NBC News.
Cases of coronavirus have been spiking across America, particularly in the South and other warm-weather regions. The World Health Organization has set a target of 5 percent testing positivity — and among the 50 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, only 18 of those jurisdictions are meeting that goal, according to a rolling seven-day average maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.