Senate OKs Ladapo as surgeon general; to Dems, he’s ‘not the right person for the job’

By: - February 23, 2022 6:52 pm

Dr. Joseph Ladapo talks to reporters after the Florida Senate confirmed him as state surgeon general on Feb. 23, 2022. Credit: Imani Thomas

The Florida Senate confirmed Joseph Ladapo as surgeon general on Wednesday, even as Democrats criticized the doctor over his stance on COVID-19 safety and other concerns.

State Sen. Lori Berman, a Democrat representing part of Palm Beach County, urged colleagues to vote against Dr. Ladapo — a favorite of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who chose Ladapo for the job.

“He doesn’t have the skills and is not the right person for the job,” Berman said.

Likewise, Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat who represents part of Broward County, said, “I never thought things could get any worse. He has been an unmitigated disaster. He favorites conspiracy theories and ignored science.”

Last fall, an episode came up in which Ladapo refused to wear a face mask during a meeting with Democrat Sen. Tina Polsky, even after she asked him to because she was undergoing treatment for a serious illness — breast cancer.

Republican Aaron Bean, representing Nassau and part of Duval County, wrote that off.

“We have a national draft pick here. The man went to Harvard and I believe he is the best. He made a mistake. Give him another chance,” Bean said.

Polsky, representing parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, responded: “What can you do at this point? Yes, you can say that he has accomplished a lot. This is just not the right person for the job.”

Other Democrats shared concerns that Ladapo has never answered whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, despite their repeated questions about it, suggesting he is more concerned about politics than public health.

Ladapo, who sat in the Senate gallery, seemed unbothered and waited for the senators’ decision.

The vote was 25-15.

As surgeon general, Ladapo also will run the Florida Department of Health as it continues to deal with a pandemic that has resulted in 5.8 million COVID-19 cases in Florida and about 69,000 deaths, according to data from the CDC.

Following the Senate vote, Ladapo offered comments to the media.

“I’m really looking forward to just serving Florida and improving some of things we already have in motion,” he said.

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