Vivek Murthy confirmed by Senate as surgeon general; will focus on Covid, opioids
WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed a soft-spoken physician as President Joe Biden’s surgeon general Tuesday. While Dr. Vivek Murthy says ending the coronavirus pandemic is his top priority, he’s also raised concerns over a relapsing opioid overdose crisis.The vote on Murthy was 57-43, giving him bipartisan support. Biden’s coronavirus response can already count on plenty of star players, but Murthy has a particular niche. As a successful author he’s addressed issues of loneliness and isolation that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.For Murthy, this will be his second tour as America’s doctor, having previously served under former President Barack Obama.Covid-19 has taken the lives of several members of Murthy’s extended family. He told senators during his confirmation hearing that he wants to help individuals and families protect themselves by conveying “clear, science-based guidance” to the general public. Persuading Americans to keep up such protective measures as wearing masks could well be his toughest challenge.Murthy served as co-chair of the Biden transition team’s coronavirus advisory board, and is said to enjoy a close personal relationship with the president.Murthy’s family roots are in India, but as a youngster he lived in Miami. His father had a medical clinic, where both parents worked.