Surgeon general says risk of coronavirus remains low, most people will not need hospitalization

The risk of contracting coronavirus remains low for most Americans, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams reassured Friday.

In an interview on "America's Newsroom" with host Laura Ingle, Adams said that the administration wants the public to know the risk of infection and be prepared, but not to panic in the process.

"What you're going to hear from the president is what you've heard from him all along: that the risk to the average American of coronavirus at this time remains low," he said. "However, we are seeing pockets in this country of increased cases of coronavirus. And so, we want people to prepare."

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Adams advised that Americans wash their hands frequently, cover a cough or sneeze, clean surfaces, and stay home if sick.

That said, Adams warned that wearing a mask was not just ineffective, it was potentially harmful and may increase the risk of getting the virus.

"We know that masks are not effective for the general public in keeping them safe from coronavirus and may actually increase their risk of getting coronavirus or the flu because if you don't wear a mask properly you often will end up touching your face frequently and can increase your risk of exposure to a respiratory disease," he explained.

"When you look at the people who are getting coronavirus, 80 percent of them are not needing to be hospitalized," Adams continued. "They're having a mild illness like the cold or like a minor flu."

"Of the 20 percent who go on to need hospitalization or more medical care, we know that the folks who are most at risk tend to be people who are elderly and people who have medical problems: heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and chemotherapy," he told Ingle.

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"And so, what we want most of America to know is that you're not at high risk for getting coronavirus, and if you do get it you are likely to recover. Ninety-eight, 99 percent of people are going to fully recover," Adams said. "And, we want the people who are at-risk...to know that you need to take extra precautions, you need to be extra careful about keeping your hands clean and about social distancing -- making sure you're staying away from large gatherings and people who might be sick."