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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

20 hours ago - Health

Biden to get booster shot on camera

Photo: Saul Loeb/ AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will receive his COVID booster shot on camera once it's fully approved for Americans ages 65 and older, the White House said Monday.

Why it matters: A federal advisory panel unanimously voted last week to recommend that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) authorize a third dose of Pfizer's vaccine for people over the age of 65 and those at higher risk of infection.

21 hours ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

20 hours ago - Health

U.S. COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities

White flags are seen on the National Mall on Sept. 18, honoring Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The recorded number COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has now surpassed the known number of fatalities from the 1918 flu pandemic.

The big picture: The U.S. has now marked more than 676,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 1918 pandemic killed about about 675,000 people.

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