It’s only Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s second day as Florida’s Surgeon General and Charlie Crist already wants him removed for what he calls a “reckless” order that leaves it up to parents whether their COVID-19-exposed child should stay home from school.
Crist hosted an online event Thursday with school officials, parents, and a teacher to decry the action, which he says is going to remove a layer of protection for the most vulnerable children, many of them who are too young to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Hiring an anti-mask, vaccine skeptic to be the state’s top doctor is another way for Gov. Ron DeSantis to go “soft on COVID,” Crist said.
He pointed out that Ladapo’s emergency rule is written so that even students who test positive for COVID-19 can go to school, as long as they have a doctor’s note. Overall, the order strips schools of the ability to tell students to stay home.
“Governor DeSantis and Dr. Ladapo are going to say it’s about a parent’s right to choose for their children,” Crist said. “But really, this is a reckless and baseless endangerment of entire classrooms and schools across the state that will jeopardize all of the work good, local leaders have done.”
Of DeSantis, whom Crist is running to replace as Governor, he said “he’s become an oppressive tyrant who now supports sending COVID-positive children into classrooms.”
“That makes no sense whatsoever,” Crist added.
Christina Pushaw, the Governor’s spokeswoman, said she’s surprised that Crist has such a low opinion of the state’s doctors that he believes any of them would write a note that would put a sick child in school.
“The rule clearly states: ‘Students will stay home if they are sick,’” she said.
Pushaw also cited a United Kingdom study on transmission in secondary schools and colleges that showed only 2% of those who had close contacts tested positive for the virus.
“It’s laughable that a career politician considers himself enough of a medical expert to assert that a Harvard-trained physician — who has published copious peer reviewed research on diseases, taught at one of the top medical schools in the world (UCLA), and has extensive experience treating hospitalized patients at the prestigious UCLA Health system in Los Angeles — is somehow unqualified to be the surgeon general of our state,” Pushaw wrote in an email. “Where did Charlie Crist get his M.D.?”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people who have been exposed to the virus stay home for 14 days. A shortened quarantine calls for people to stay home for at least seven days and return to normal activities only after they’ve had a negative test for COVID-19 on the fifth day after exposure or later.
Crist said it shouldn’t be a political issue.
“This isn’t right versus left,” Crist said. “This is right versus wrong. That’s where we are.”
Judi Hayes, a mother of a 10-year-old boy with disabilities, doesn’t want it to be her son who gets COVID-19.
“We thought we were seeing the light at the end of a tunnel,” she said. “But it turns out to be an oncoming train.”
Nine-year-old Reefy Kinder lives in Volusia County and has been through 30 surgeries. She had some words for the situation.
“I don’t understand why the Governor and the new Surgeon General, don’t care about my safety and health, or any other child’s for that matter,” said Reefy, who has had sepsis and hospital-bound flu related to her corrective surgeries. “Being at home on a computer with my mom is no way equal to being in a classroom, period.”