Adams, a former Indiana anesthetist and health commissioner, was re-elected as a surgeon general for a four-year term in September 2017. He was only the second African American to hold this position. He would eventually play a key role in communicating public health measures to prevent Covid-19, especially among minority communities ravaged by the virus. But Adams has been criticized by Democrats for saying he hasn’t done enough to roll back President Donald Trump’s efforts to downplay the pandemic.
His inauguration day will cut his tenure by roughly six months and will likely leave Biden for weeks without a resident surgeon general as incoming government steps up its Covid-19 response.
Biden’s candidate for the role, Vivek Murthy, who previously held the job during the Obama administration as well as Biden’s other health picks, is waiting to be scheduled for his Senate confirmation hearings.
A spokesman for the Biden transition declined to comment on who would replace Adams in the meantime, though an announcement could be made as early as Wednesday afternoon.
The Washington Post first reported on Adams’ exit, as well as plans to bypass Assistant Surgeon General Erica Schwartz for the interim role.
Trump also fired Murthy as surgeon general shortly after his tenure, after Murthy served in that role for a little over two years. The move angered the Democrats at the time, who claimed the role should remain free from politics.
Murthy will return to work with a promise of increased responsibility and leadership in managing the pandemic through the Biden administration.
Murthy was a close confidante of Biden during the campaign. He was instrumental in drawing up his Covid-19 plans and has informed Biden about the virus several times a week since the early months of the pandemic.