New Surgeon General down on mask, vaccine mandates; championed hydroxychloroquine
Joseph Ladapo gets a big pay bump. Image via Colin Hackley.

'Florida will completely reject fear as a way of making policies in public health.'

Florida’s new Surgeon General and Department of Health Secretary is opposed to government shutdowns and vaccine and mask mandates, just like his boss, Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis on Tuesday announced Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, an associate professor from UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, will head the Florida Department of Health and serve as the state’s top public health official.

“He comes to Florida with really a superb background, bringing superb intellect but also, I think, will bring great leadership,” DeSantis said. “This is a big deal to move across the country from Southern California to come to the state of Florida. But we feel Joe is just the right guy for the job.”

Like his new boss, Ladapo opposes mask mandates, government shutdowns, and vaccine mandates and recently wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal expressing those opinions.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a remarkable stream of scientific investigation, but that knowledge isn’t translating into better public policy. One example is a zealous pursuit of public mask-wearing, a measure that has had, at best, a modest effect on viral transmission. Or take lockdowns, shown by research to increase deaths overall but nonetheless still considered an acceptable solution,” Ladapo wrote. “This intellectual disconnect now extends to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The policy is promoted as essential for stopping the spread of COVID-19, though the evidence suggests it won’t.”

Ladapo said Tuesday that he was pleased to be in Florida working with DeSantis.

“Florida will completely reject fear as a way of making policies in public health. So we are done with fear. That’s been something that’s been unfortunately a centerpiece of health policy in the United States ever since the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s over here. Expiration date. It’s done,” he said.

More than 50,000 Floridians have died from COVID-19 complications following the surge of the delta variant. The last two months have been some of the most deadly in Florida for the pandemic.

Ladapo signed on to a document known as the Great Barrington Declaration, which argues that instead of concentrating on lockdowns, health authorities should focus most of their attention on those most at risk of dying from COVID-19.

He also co-wrote an opinion piece for The New York Daily News in October 2020, suggesting hydroxychloroquine is beneficial for patients.

“People in the United States and around the world should have access to it, and physicians should feel empowered to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to their vulnerable patients,” the opinion piece notes.

Ladapo said Tuesday that he was friends with one of the authors, Jay Bhattacharya, the Stanford University professor who has been a vocal supporter of DeSantis’s approach to the pandemic.

Published reports from last summer say that Ladapo joined a group known as “America’s Frontline Doctors,” which put out a video aggressively promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine.

Before announcing Ladapo’s hiring, DeSantis thanked former Department of Health Secretary Dr. Scott Rivkees, whose last day was Monday, and DOH Deputy Secretary for Health Shamarial Roberson, who leaves her post with the state in October.

DeSantis noted that Rivkees, who came on in the summer of 2019, worked “incredibly hard” during his two-year tenure at the department.

DeSantis noted that Rivkees worked “very hard COVID on a number of health issues affecting the state. And then, of course, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, it’s really been a seven-day-a-week type of job. So I want to thank him for his service to the state.”

Although the Senate confirmed him, Rivkees faced scrutiny and tough questions about a reported history of sexually suggestive comments and his intention to continue working at the University of Florida, where he has remained a full-time employee.

Ladapo will have to be confirmed by the Florida Senate.


Florida Politics staff writer Renzo Downey contributed to this report.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • Alex

    September 21, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    Oh good.

    Another irrational nutcase who refuses to honor his Hippocratic Oath.

  • PeterH

    September 21, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    More DeSantis Stupid

    Pediatric Dr. Rivkees couldn’t tolerate DeSantis irrational Covid decision making another day! Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo Is an incompetent Donald Trump apologist. Stay tuned for more Florida death and overloaded hospital beds.

    There is not a single reputable doctor, nurse or hospital who will listen to advisement from this idiot Ladapo.

    Informed readers should google his name an see what a national disgrace this “doctor” embraces!

    It’s going to be fun watching the National media shred DeSantis over this decision.

    • Mary c Santana

      September 21, 2021 at 6:22 pm

      I’m reposting your perfect comment on my page.

    • PeterHisAMoron

      September 21, 2021 at 9:04 pm

      You’re a fucking idiot.

    • AJ

      September 22, 2021 at 12:00 am

      Whatever and I mean 110% of all of whatever the “national” media says, is totally opposite of what is right, moral, and logical.
      And anyone that believes ONE WORD they say is a bat
      sh-it crazy mental midget.

    • Fighforfreedom

      September 23, 2021 at 8:42 pm

      Oh look another uneducated ignorant sheep. You are the problem. You are the host with your lethal jab. Keep taking it and one less stupid to deal with. Just can’t fix stupid. Start digging your crave moron.

  • Carol

    September 21, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    So happy to have a Ladapo on board who will look at the data and science to make relevant health decisions for Florida. So crazy and sad to think so many don’t use common sense and would rather surrender to the media caused fear than look at what the data is actually showing or take time to research on their own. Of course people are already talking bad about him before he starts because our society has turned into a scene from meangirls where people lost the ability to treat one another with respect and dignity. We also don’t use common sense in 2021 so I guess it’s just par for the course!

    • Alex

      September 21, 2021 at 8:20 pm

      So show us the data that says masks and vaccines don’t work, but hydroxychloroquine does.

      Credible links only please.

      • Mike Guntle

        September 22, 2021 at 8:51 am

        All you have to do is look at Israel….85+% vaxxed, and the MOST cases per capita in the WORLD…..this vaccine does NOT WORK. And pushing it is a direct conflict with the Hippocratic oath. Over 15K deaths “reported” with this vaccine, and the real number is very likely more than 10 times that.

        • PeterH

          September 22, 2021 at 3:09 pm

          Mike ….. where are you getting your statistics? Fox News? Breitbart?

          1. Israel IS NOT 85% vaccinated. At best according to REAL STATISTICSvaccinated. So yes….. the latest surge did impact those unvaccinated Israelis!

          2. 15,000 people have not died from the vaccine. Your comment is 100% BS. THE VACCINES ARE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE AND WORK AS EXPECTED.

          Source; CDC, NYT, WHO

      • Carol

        September 23, 2021 at 4:54 pm

        You could check out the 8 hour recording from the FDA meeting on getting a third dose of the stuff that they show doesn’t work after 2 shots, aka “booster shot”.
        During call they unanimously voted against for general use and had hour after hour or scientist, epidemiologist and other experts state the vax is not working, won’t end the delta varriant and they are very concerned in the amount of deaths they are seeing from vax. They especially talk about how the use of it in kids is not justified and very dangerous due to the adverse events they are seeing and the fact that kids risk of mortality from the virus is basically nonexistent. They also look at the Isreal stats. You should take the 8 hours to listen, it’s worth it!

        • PeterH

          September 23, 2021 at 5:36 pm

          Total nonsense Carol. You have no proof. If YOUR nonsense was reliable we would see it on CNN or PBS! Stop lying!

      • James Evitts

        September 28, 2021 at 9:17 am

        Hea idiot after a year and a half where has masks done any good ! That is a big fact slapping you in your ignorant face ! Remember the saying ,definition of stupidity is doing the same thing the same way every time and expecting different results ! A year and a half and no change with masks ! So your ignorance is showing loud and clear !

    • John B Sullivan Jr MD

      September 21, 2021 at 9:42 pm

      The science is clear. Masks and vaccines top covid, the Joseph Goebbel’s of Florida will kill you!

    • Linda Long

      September 21, 2021 at 11:46 pm

      I am so happy for you in FL, I hope this action spreads like wildfire.

  • Kathy

    September 21, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    I wonder how long Desantis had to search for someone who followed his theories. I guess there were no infectious disease experts available. Makes sense we would get someone
    “whose primary research interests include assessing the cost-effectiveness of diagnostic technologies and reducing the population burden of cardiovascular disease” (from his CV).
    “We’re done with fear”? We should be terrified.

    • Alex

      September 21, 2021 at 8:14 pm



    • Christine

      September 21, 2021 at 8:58 pm

      Kathy, there are many doctors, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts, including Dr. Robert Malone, who invented mRNA technology, Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche, who invented MRNA vaccine technology, and the 100s, if not 1000s, of doctor’s associated with America’s Frontline doctors, besides thousands around the world, who agree with Dr Ladapo.

      • John Sullvan MD

        September 21, 2021 at 10:02 pm

        That group is dangerous to the health of the public. Has covid 19 been stopped? No, thank people like good Dr. Lapado.

        • Irla

          September 22, 2021 at 3:51 am

          It hasn’t been stopped because people like you keep pushing this vax that is creating more variants. Read some real science papers, doctor not just go by what killer Fauci says.

          • PeterH

            September 22, 2021 at 3:12 pm

            Absolutely zero proof of your stupid comment that vaccines are generating variants. VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE VARIANTS.

          • SeekTheTruthInThisReality

            September 22, 2021 at 7:32 pm

            Real Science papers? Seriously.
            And still none of these dimwits are actually citing a single credible source. I’ll bet you read from a wide variety of proven credible sources don’t you? No blinders on you. Full steam ahead, no seat belt & just crushed a 5th of Early times. Enjoy that brick wall and lung transplant that someone else obviously deserved.

          • James Evitts

            September 28, 2021 at 9:21 am

            I agree with you 100%

        • Carol

          September 23, 2021 at 4:56 pm

          Your lack of critical thinking and political blinders are much more dangerous than any of those doctors!!!

  • Christine

    September 21, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    Awesome! Welcome Dr Ladapo! Many of us Floridians are thankful to have a man with your knowledge and honesty as our Surgeon General.

    • Alex

      September 21, 2021 at 9:06 pm


      This guy was one of Trump’s “frontline doctors” but quit claiming he treated covid patients when he was asked for details.

      The “frontline doctors” made a video that Trump posted, but Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube took it down because it pushed disinformation.

      So this guy is a quack.

      • Christine

        September 21, 2021 at 9:27 pm

        Alex, I’ve seen epidemiologists post peer- reviewed double-blind studies published in respected health journals and have them censored and taken down by Facebook. Fauci himself has said many times in the past that masks don’t work. Just so you know, Facebook censors aren’t doctors or medical experts.. they are biased hacks. Facebook has an agenda. MANY wonderful caring reputable doctors are saying the very same thing as Dr Ladapo.

        • John

          September 21, 2021 at 10:04 pm

          Masks stop covid transmission. 80% compliance with masks that are 50% effective and you don’t need a vaccine. Don’t be part of the ignorant Florida minority.

          • Bruce

            September 21, 2021 at 11:50 pm

            You have ZERO proof of this.
            And any study that is out shows the exact opposite. They don’t do jack.
            Of course you dingbat leftists are welcome to continue wearing your virtue signaling pacifier. Whatever makes you feel mentally comforted.

          • Mike Guntle

            September 22, 2021 at 9:03 am

            I would like the link to that study…the one I saw was 3% effective for masks. Please tell me how a mask can stop something that is .1 micron, when the smallest opening in a mask is 6 microns? It’s like using a chain-link fence to stop gravel…..useless….but…that’s science, and you don’t follow that BS….

          • DrB

            September 23, 2021 at 11:24 am

            John, You are absolutely correct. I am a Ph.D. infectious disease researcher and microbiologist (25 years practicing). As such, I know how to search and interpret scientific literature as it is part of my profession. I have published/co-published more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific articles on infectious microbes throughout my career. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( a preeminent journal for scholarly research), it is now categorically certain that masks do mitigate the spread of COVID. I include the citation and the abstract from a scholarly systematic review paper below. At least focus on the last couple of sentences. It is indisputable. There is no your science or my science….there is only science, and this is what the science is telling us. Masks clearly help.
            Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jan 26;118(4):e2014564118.
            doi: 10.1073/pnas.2014564118.

            “The science around the use of masks by the public to impede COVID-19 transmission is advancing rapidly. In this narrative review, we develop an analytical framework to examine mask usage, synthesizing the relevant literature to inform multiple areas: population impact, transmission characteristics, source control, wearer protection, sociological considerations, and implementation considerations. A primary route of transmission of COVID-19 is via respiratory particles, and it is known to be transmissible from presymptomatic, paucisymptomatic, and asymptomatic individuals. Reducing disease spread requires two things: limiting contacts of infected individuals via physical distancing and other measures and reducing the transmission probability per contact. The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts. Public mask wearing is most effective at reducing spread of the virus when compliance is high. Given the current shortages of medical masks, we recommend the adoption of public cloth mask wearing, as an effective form of source control, in conjunction with existing hygiene, distancing, and contact tracing strategies. Because many respiratory particles become smaller due to evaporation, we recommend increasing focus on a previously overlooked aspect of mask usage: mask wearing by infectious people (“source control”) with benefits at the population level, rather than only mask wearing by susceptible people, such as health care workers, with focus on individual outcomes. We recommend that public officials and governments strongly encourage the use of widespread face masks in public, including the use of appropriate regulation.”

          • Mike Guntle

            September 24, 2021 at 9:25 am

            This is a reply to DrB, since there is no link there I replied to this. I read the report he cited…among the info there was….”Overall, direct evidence of the efficacy of mask use is supportive, but inconclusive. Since there are no RCTs, only one observational trial, and unclear evidence from other respiratory illnesses, we will need to look at a wider body of evidence.” and goes on to state….”There are currently no studies that measure the impact of any kind of mask on the amount of infectious SARS-CoV-2 particles from human actions.” So basically….we like to think masks work, so we’ll tell you they do, even if they don’t.

        • SeekTheTruthInThisReality

          September 22, 2021 at 12:40 am

          Yeah look at the top 10 states with the worst death rates currently… they are almost all Ron Desantis esque. I would be stunned if Desantis isnt employing marketing/PR firms to post comments on articles like this. He is one of the single greatest forces prolonging this pandemic. You cite censorship like it makes you credible. More whataboutism. The facts are there. Misinformation pedalers have clogged up so many simpletons brains that facts don’t matter. Just type freedom and be done with it. I hope one day that find a cure for sociopaths so they can actually feel remorse for the lives they cost and way of life they ruined. This could be over if it weren’t for ignorant selfish garbage people trying to be contradictory because they like to.

          • Mike Guntle

            September 22, 2021 at 8:57 am

            Actually the top 10 states in order are….Mississippi, New Jersey, Louisiana, New York, Alabama, Arizona, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Arkansas and then Florida….WOW ….they are ALL RED STATES!! Idiiot…

        • PeterH

          September 22, 2021 at 3:21 pm

          You’re incorrect. Ladapo is on the minor league and his “theories” have been widely criticized. He’s well known for his failed narrative. Google his name. The guy is a Trump apologist!

          Florida currently has the 10th highest death count per capita in the USA. For Christine ….. that means that the policies of DeSantis and his revolving door incompetent Surgeon Generals is working. 🙀

    • Lorraine

      September 22, 2021 at 10:27 am

      One more nut added to this state – if they are crazy they come here

      But then they fit right in / can not wait to vote in 2022- and add my money to turn this state around to truth and rational health methods / this state has nearing death numbers of all those that died in total Vietnam War ( 58,000) what a horrible record to break – and many of this state cheer this man on – totally unbelievable to me – like being in a different universe or a horror movie

    • Yelena Potter

      September 22, 2021 at 12:32 pm

      I agree 100% with you. So happy that Dr. Ladapo is our new Surgeon General. I following America’s Frontline Doctors for some time and was planning to go and get a prescription for Hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. I am not vaccinated and do not wear masks (thank you to our leader DeSantis).
      It is almost impossible to get reliable study data since all of it is controlled by the CDC. I am getting some research results from my motherland Russia since I have doctors as my dear friends.
      Please continue your journey and bring us good news.
      St -Petersburg Russia graduate with MS in Chemistry.

  • Kathy

    September 22, 2021 at 9:47 am

    With or without this Doctor, we are screwed. I’m just curious, so no shade please. I am a full supporter who believes public figures young children are off limits. Do we know if Desantis’ children are in school or home schooled? With the infection rate climbing for our youngsters, I am wondering what precautions the Desantis family is taking to protect their children. I’m pretty sure they are not part of the “experiment”.

    • Lorraine

      September 22, 2021 at 10:30 am

      Putting young children and politicians on the same level and in the same catagory is, in my opinion , crazy !

  • Tom Minotti

    September 22, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    It is unbelievable that a governor would politicize the appointment of a state Surgeon General. No question that this was purposeful.

  • PeterH

    September 22, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    The appointment of Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo is a strong dose of Florida Stupid!

    A remarkable indicator of true and competent leadership occurs when a decision maker realizes that the course they’ve set is the wrong one and they immediately reverse direction and admit that a huge mistake has been made.
    Governor Ron DeSantis won’t admit to himself or others that the thickheaded course that he has set for the State of Florida is not in the best interest for the life and safety of the residents, tourist and cruisers.

    The DeSantis policies didn’t erupt overnight. They’ve been nurtured for two years in coordination with Donald Trump’s failed leadership policies.

    For the past eight weeks DeSantis has marketed Florida as a maskless Covid free safe haven. This has attracted his national band of unvaccinated maskless followers to use our State as an experimental tourist Covid petri dish. The outcome was swift and predictable to anyone who believes in science.

    Rightly so, Florida is now the epicenter for National and International media speculation on Covid mismanagement by elected officials. Per capita…. Florida ranks 10th in the nation for deaths!

    Tourist have never shown an interest in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas or other central plain states that are also showing of a Covid surge….. but tourist do care about Florida….. so we are in the spotlight.

    DeSantis’s intent is to do for the USA what he has done to Florida! He’s irrationally branded this death wish experiment as a march to freedom! He must be stopped! Like Trump, DeSantis can never be allowed in the Oval Office.

    The battle lines for and against stupid and incompetence have been drawn and will play out in the coming weeks in courts because the citizens of Florida can’t think of a better way to invest their hard earned tax dollars!

    Stay tuned! The Republican Party has a long way down before it hits bottom.

    • Mike Guntle

      September 23, 2021 at 9:12 am

      Wow….so you’re saying Biden is doing a good job? Talk about failed leadership. If you were TRYING to destroy America, you couldn’t be more successful than Biden has been……everything he’s touched has turned to sh!t. The Border, the economy, Afghanistan, Foreign relations, trade….EVERYTHING! Oh…but…DeSantis bad….drink some more Kool-aid….

      • PeterH

        September 23, 2021 at 9:58 am

        Wow🥺 another comment from STUPID! Get vaccinated…… I mentioned nothing concerning Biden did I????

Comments are closed.


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