"When you look at places like California, that aggressively mitigated and social distanced, they were able to level and flatten their curve," Dr. Jerome Adams said in an interview with "Good Morning America."
"And so we're looking at this next 30 days as an opportunity for the entire country to understand: If you do the right thing, then we can flatten our curves in our own different areas and actually get to the other side," Adams said.
Surgeon General: Face masks shouldn't be worn at 'expense of social distancing'
The surgeon general's remarks came the day after the White House coronavirus task force delivered a grim projection, predicting that COVID-19 could kill 100,000 to 240,000 Americans.
President Donald Trump described physical distancing guidelines as "a matter of life and death."
As of Wednesday morning, at least 8,200 coronavirus cases were reported in California, with 173 deaths.