On Monday morning, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams joined the TODAY Show to offer a sober warning to Americans about the COVID-19 outbreak’s spread: “This week, it’s going to get bad.”

Adams expressed dismay that many Americans had failed to take early recommended guidelines for self-isolation seriously, which he said has greatly worsened the early spread of the novel coronavirus.

“I think there are a lot of people that are doing the right things,” he acknowledged. “But unfortunately, we’re finding out a lot of people think this can’t happen to them.”

Adams referenced the current crisis in New York City which is threatening to overwhelm hospitals, saying it’s a direct result of a failure on the part of large groups to self-isolate two weeks ago. “There mitigation measures work preventatively,” he explained. “They work best the earlier you do them. And people are still reacting and waiting to see a spread before they decide to get serious.”

Adams urged Americans to take drastic steps now, before the signs of pandemic become obvious in their local communities.

“We don’t want Dallas or New Orleans or Chicago to turn into the next New York, and it means everyone needs to be taking the right steps right now and that means stay at home.”

“Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously,” he said. “Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now. So, test or no test, we need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else. Or you could be getting it from someone else. Stay at home.”