Newly confirmed surgeon general to focus on COVID, opioids

Posted at 6:23 PM, Mar 23, 2021

The Senate has confirmed a soft-spoken physician as President Joe Biden’s surgeon general. Dr. Vivek Murthy says ending the coronavirus pandemic is his top priority, but he’s also raising concerns over a relapsing opioid overdose crisis.

Murthy was confirmed by a 57-43 margin. Seven Republicans, Sens. Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Roger Marshall, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney & Dan Sullivan, joined all 50 Democrats in confirming Murthy.

Biden already has plenty of star players on his coronavirus response team. But Murthy will occupy a particular niche:

As a successful author, he’s addressed issues of loneliness and isolation that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

"COVID-19 is not the only health crisis we face — if anything, it has underscored a host of other epidemics that are devastating families and shortening lifespans: addiction, the opioid crisis, and spiraling mental health concerns; glaring racial disparities and high rates of diabetes and heart disease," Murthy said. "These challenges are both caused and exacerbated by broader societal issues — from the economic strains families face to the disconnection and loneliness many of us feel.:

It will be his second tour as America's doctor, having previously served during the Obama administration.

Murthy's family has its roots in India.