Surgeon general says he’s ‘deeply concerned’ as COVID-19 cases reach record highs in Florida

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

  • US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said he’s “deeply concerned” about Florida, where COVID-19 cases are surging.
  • Florida is currently leading the country in per capita COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • On Saturday, the state registered more than 21,000 new infections – a record high.
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US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Monday that he’s “deeply concerned” about Florida – where COVID-19 cases have reached record highs – and other states where infections are increasing.

“I am deeply concerned about what’s happening in Florida and certainly many parts of our country with cases rising,” Murthy said during an interview on “CBS This Morning.”

Florida is currently leading the country in per capita COVID-19 hospitalizations with more than 10,000 coronavirus patients, data shows.

The Sunshine State also hit a single-day record for new coronavirus cases on Saturday with more than 21,000 infections recorded.

“I think what we see time and time again … with COVID-19 is that it’s going to throw curveballs at us,” Murthy said, explaining that the highly tranmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus “is the latest curveball.”

Murthy added, “And what we have to be ready to do is increase our vaccination pace while we are using mitigation measures, including wearing masks.”

Read more: Internal CDC document warns ‘the war has changed’ with the more infectious Delta variant

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance and recommended that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear face masks indoors in areas where coronavirus transmission is high.

“That’s one of the reasons the CDC revised its guidance last week to encourage more mask usage because we know it’s a powerful way to reduce the spread of the virus while getting vaccination rates up,” Murthy said.

Despite surging coronavirus cases in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last week prohibiting schools in the state from requiring students to wear face masks when they return to classrooms this month.

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Surgeon General doubles down on criticism of social media, says companies like Facebook need to ‘take responsibility’ for COVID-19 misinformation

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks on Fox News
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday doubled down on his criticism of social-media companies.

  • Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday doubled down on his criticism of tech companies.
  • In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Murthy said companies “need to take responsibility” for the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.
  • Murthy last week issued a 22-page advisory declaring misinformation a threat to public health.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy doubled down Sunday on his criticism of tech companies for their role in the spread of misinformation related to COVID-19 and vaccines.

“What all of us have the right to is accurate information, so we can make the right decisions for us and our families. That is not the reality for far too many people,” Murthy told Fox News’ Chris Wallace during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

“They’re inundated with misinformation, and all of us – technology companies, individuals, health professionals, and government – have roles they can play in addressing and slowing the spread of misinformation,” he added.

Murthy on Thursday in a 22-page report issued his first advisory as the surgeon general. In the report, Murthy deemed misinformation “an urgent threat to public health” and called out tech companies for their role in hosting misinformation on their platforms, some of which casts doubt on the safety and effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.

Health experts say the spread of misinformation about the vaccines and COVID-19 has played a part in millions of people avoiding getting vaccinated— even as new variants of the disease are spreading.

On Friday, a day after the report, President Joe Biden told NBC News that social-media companies were “killing people” because of misinformation hosted on their platforms.

“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people,” Biden said.

A spokesperson for Facebook pushed back on the administration’s claims.

“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts,” a Facebook spokesperson told Insider and other outlets. “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine.”

But Murthy on Sunday doubled down on his advisory.

“The reality is misinformation is still spreading like wildfire in our country, aided and abetted by technology platforms,” he said.

“There are pathways that tech companies can take to address misinformation that’s flowing on their side,” Murthy added. “I acknowledge they’re taking steps, and I appreciate that. But I’m also very clearly saying it is not enough. The intention is good but at the end of the day, it doesn’t save the life of someone who was misled by misinformation on these sites.”

He added: “I’m asking these companies to step up and take responsibility for what is happening on their sites. I’m asking them to look out for the people all across this country whose lives depend on having access to accurate information.”

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US Surgeon General says he’s ‘worried for what is to come’ and warns that ‘this pandemic is not over’

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks at White House briefing.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 15, 2021.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said that he is “worried about what is come” and the COVID-19 “pandemic is not over” amid a surge in cases, particularly among individuals who have yet to get the vaccine.

“I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular,” Murthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, the Hill reported. “And while if you are vaccinated you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately, that is not true if you are not vaccinated.”

Murthy’s comments come as the Delta variant has led to an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the US. As Insider’s Aria Bendix previously reported, that cases have risen by 60% in the past two weeks, especially in states with low vaccination rates.

Last week, President Joe Biden said like social media platforms like Facebook are “killing people” as vaccine misinformation continues to spread.

During the interview, host Dana Bash asked Murthy if conservative media is also to blame for sharing inaccurate information about the vaccine.

“I think all of us, including the media.. individuals, and health professionals have the responsibility to share the truth about health.. as science informs us,” Murthy responded. “Unless we are honest about the consequences of our communication with people, unless we are rigorous about ensuring that what we communicate is actually sourced from science and not from opinion on critical issues like the vaccine.. then we are going to ultimately put people at risk.”

“My worry is that all this misinformation that’s floating around is having a real cost that can be measured in lives lost and that is just tragic,” Murthy continued.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, he added: “This pandemic is not over.”

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