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U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Photo: Samuel Corum/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy defended the Biden administration's latest coronavirus-related measures Sunday, saying they are "part of a long tradition that we have in this country" of taking action to keep people safe.

Why it matters: Murthy's comments on NBC's "Meet the Press," follow President Biden's announcement of a six-pronged plan to combat the virus, which includes aggressive vaccination and testing measures.

  • The measures are likely to face legal challenges from Republican governors, who were quick to express their disdain with the administration's plan.
  • Murthy also appeared on ABC's "This Week," where he called Biden's new policies "an appropriate legal measure."

What they're saying: "One of the things that we cannot afford to do during this pandemic is allow the COVID-19 experience to turn us against each other. Our enemy is the virus; it is not each other," Murthy told "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd.

  • "We've got to use every lever we have in order to fight this pandemic," he added.
  • "In the face of Delta, we've got to move to the next phase of that response, and that involves focusing not just on expanding the vaccination efforts through a combination of mandates and access, but it also involves focusing on increasing our testing capacity."

Go deeper

Trump reveals he got COVID vaccine booster shot

Former President Trump revealed on Monday that he has received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

Why it matters: Trump was vaccinated at the White House in January. But he has often downplayed the pandemic and delivered mixed signals on the shot, despite the fact that Trump-supporting communities tend to have markedly lower vaccination rates.

Updated Dec 20, 2021 - Health

CDC: Omicron accounted for 23% of recent COVID-19 cases

People queue at a street-side COVID-19 testing booth in New York's Times Square on Dec. 20. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

The Omicron variant accounted for 22.5% of recent COVID-19 cases in the U.S. on the week that ended on Dec. 18 , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated estimate released on Dec. 28.

The latest: The revised data shows Omicron's share of COVID-19 infections nearly tripled in just one week.

Updated 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

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