Tallahassee, Florida – Chief Surgeon of Florida Joseph Ladapo was confirmed in his post on Wednesday when Republicans in the Senate approved the nomination of the state’s chief doctor over criticism that his opposition to the coronavirus mandate coincides too much with Gov. Ron DeSantis ’policies.
Ladapa, who was appointed by DeSantis in September, drew close attention to his general opposition to the governor’s mandate against COVID-19 on vaccines and masks and other health policies approved by the federal government.
“People have their opinions, I know that everything was quite politically charged, but I want to assure everyone that I am very enthusiastic about health, good health,” Ladapo told reporters after his confirmation. “I’ve been talking about good health since the beginning of the pandemic, holistically, not in one specific band, so that’s something I’ll continue to do as chief surgeon.”
His confirmation completed the legislative process that resulted in Ladapa appearing before two Senate committees at hearings that sparked controversy when Democrats accused him of evading questions and not working hard to promote vaccines. On Wednesday, Democrats reiterated that concern and called for it Ladapowho watched the debate from the Senate Gallery to break away from the Republican governor.
“If you’re not committed to anything, the optician says you’re a man,” said Senator Jason W. B. Pizza, a Democrat, looking to Ladap. “And we can’t allow the country’s third-largest state chief physician to be ‘yes’ to politics.”
In his confirmation, Ladapa called himself a medical professional married to data, once telling a Democratic senator who pressed him for effective vaccines that “questions of whether or not to find it in science are not easy.” He later said that vaccines have been shown to provide protection against hospitalization and death, but reduce the ability to prevent infection.
At one of the hearings dem escaped after being told they were not receiving answers from the chief surgeon. In another, Ladapo declined to disclose whether he had been vaccinated against the coronavirus, sparking another wave of criticism.
The chief surgeon, in addition to his policy on the coronavirus, drew the country’s attention by refusing to wear a mask in the office of State Senator Tina Polska, a Democrat who told him she had serious medical problems. She was later diagnosed with breast cancer. Ladapo issued a statement saying it was “doubtful” of the news of her illness and wished her “blessings and strength.”
Collected by Ladapo, DeSantis found a former UCLA doctor and researcher with a Harvard degree who shared his views against coronavirus credentials. The same policy has turned DeSantis into one of the rising stars of the Republican Party when he is running for re-election and flirting with the 2024 presidential bid.
“I think politics is part of my role, but I’m not here for politics, I’m here for health,” Ladapo said on Wednesday. “It so happened that the governor and I see similar things among some serious health issues, and that’s good.”
Associated Press writer Brendan Farrington contributed to this report.
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