Nearly 70K urge Senate to confirm new surgeon general in petition

Nearly 70,000 people are calling on the Senate to confirm Obama pick Vivek Murthy as surgeon general while fears about Ebola rise in the United States.

Murthy's nomination has been held up for more than six months over objections to his views on guns from conservatives and the the National Rifle Association (NRA).

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"With public health capturing Americans' attention due to the spread of the Ebola virus, now is the perfect time to pressure the Senate to stand up to the NRA and confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general," an online petition at CREDO Action states.

"It is more important than ever that we have a level-headed surgeon general in place who can calmly communicate with the American people," the document continues. It had 68,480 signatures as of Monday night.

Murthy, a practicing physician and instructor at Harvard Medical School, was nominated in November of last year to replace acting surgeon general Boris Lushniak.

Murthy's nomination drew opposition for previous statements in which he called gun violence a public health issue.

Testifying before senators in February, Murthy said those views would not affect his role as surgeon general. "My concerns with regard to issues like gun violence have to do with my experience as a physician," he said.

But that was not enough to pacify opponents, who warned Murthy would seek to limit gun rights while serving in the Obama administration.

The lack of a permanent surgeon general became prominent in recent weeks after the U.S. saw its first Ebola diagnosis, death and transmission.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden has stepped in as the administration's leading voice on the matter.