The US surgeon general, Dr Jerome Adams, was cited in Honolulu, Hawaii earlier this year after he entered a state park that had been closed due to the coronavirus so that he could take photos.
Mr Adams was cited for violating the mayor of Honolulu’s emergency orders.
Lex Smith, an attorney representing Mr Adams, told the Associated Press that the surgeon general was not seeking special treatment and that the incident was rooted in a misunderstanding.
“During his visit to Oahu, the surgeon general was cited for accidentally violating the state’s emergency order, due to his misunderstanding of the law,” the attorney said. “He has not asked for, nor has he received, any special treatment in connection with this citation, and will respond appropriately.”
Both the surgeon general and his aide, Dennis Anderson-Villaluz, were cited for entering the park.
Mr Adams and his aid told local police that they entered the park not knowing it had been closed.
Governor David Ige closed all of the state’s parks around the first week of August – the same time period that Mr Adams and his aide visited – in response to a spike in Covid-19 cases.
The governor previously had closed the parks in March at the onset of the pandemic.
Mr Adams will answer to his charges remotely on 21 Oct. and could face up to a $5,000 fine, up to a year in jail, or potentially both.
The surgeon general will face his charges at a time when many within the Trump administration are coming under fire for flouting coronavirus guidelines in the wake of Donald Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis.
Mr Adams faced previous criticism for a poem he tweeted in February that suggested the flu was more dangerous than the coronavirus. Then, a few months later, Mr Adams was again chastised for using language that critics said was racially insensitive in a message meant to urge minority communities to take the virus more seriously.
Contrary to others in the Trump administration, Mr Adams has been a proponent of face mask usage, and went on a national tour to coronavirus hot spots to encourage Americans to wear masks. His trip to Oahu was one such event.
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