Vivek Murthy speaks during his confirmation hearing as medical director in the regular public health corps and surgeon general in the public health service before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington, Feb. 25, 2021.
Caroline Brehman | Swimming pool | Reuters
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy followed federal guidance that those fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer need to wear masks and accused social media companies of inciting misinformation about vaccines.
Murthy told CNN’s State of the Union that it also gives communities the flexibility to use masking requirements based on new infections and vaccination rates, as Los Angeles did.
Nationwide, the new US Covid-19 cases rose this week by 70% compared to the previous seven days to an average of 30,000 new infections per day, fueled by the Delta variant. The number of deaths increased by 26% from week to week to an average of 250 lives lost per day, mostly in unvaccinated patients.
Murthy said social media companies had fueled false accounts about the safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines, and reiterated President Joe Biden’s comments that social media companies “kill people.”
“These tech companies have taken positive steps,” Murthy said. “But what I also told them publicly and privately is that it is not enough.”
Facebook defended Biden’s claim in a post on Saturday, saying it promotes authoritative information about vaccines and is aggressively targeting health misinformation on its platforms.
Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar told CNN’s State of the Union that she was looking for ways to legally hold social enterprises accountable for vaccine misinformation and suggested some may even need to be wound up.
“I’m a fan of antitrust law so that we can have real competition with the dominant platforms,” said Klobuchar.
Ken McClure, the Mayor of Springfield, Missouri, blamed misinformation as part of the driving force behind poor vaccination rates in his community, which has seen a huge surge in Covid-19 cases.
“I think we’re seeing a lot of dissemination on social media,” McClure told Face the Nation on CBS. “I think we as a society and certainly in our community will be hurt by it.”