The Phoenix Flyer

Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees appears to be headed toward confirmation, following controversy

By: - February 19, 2020 12:41 pm
Florida's surgeon general

Florida’s new surgeon general. Credit: University of Florida

It looks like Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees will be confirmed in this year’s legislative session, after favorable votes in three different committee hearings in the Senate.

Now, he’ll soon face a full Senate vote on his confirmation.

Rivkees is also head of the Florida Department of Health.

Rivkees faced mounting criticism last year, delaying his confirmation. But Rivkees cleared his final Florida Senate committee on Monday.

Senators on the Ethics and Elections committee unanimously approved his confirmation, with supporters of Rivkees from the medical field speaking on his behalf at the meeting. There were no questions from senators on the committee.

Stephen Winn, executive director of the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, spoke in support of Rivkees during the hearing, related to the coronavirus.

“He again acts quickly and shows strong leadership,” Winn said. “When it came to the coronavirus all the information that Dr. Rivkees wanted out, came out the next morning. On Wednesdays, he’s created with his team, a coronavirus update.”

Committee chair Dennis Baxley, a Republican representing Sumter County and parts of Lake and Marion counties, praised Rivkees on his efforts in responding to the deadly coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.

“I want to thank you for your responsiveness this weekend, he’s available on weekends…this was regarding some constituents in our area who were trapped in the quarantine of the ship in Japan,” Baxley said.

However, Rivkees has been criticized about not releasing information to the public about potential coronavirus cases.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Rivkees ten months ago, but his confirmation process was postponed until the 2020 session.

Democratic State Sen. Lauren Book, who represents parts of Broward County, had questioned Rivkees earlier about reports regarding sexually suggestive comments at the University of Florida. Rivkees defended his background.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.