Florida’s new Surgeon General will be accessible via social media, at least for the foreseeable future.
“Excited to be on Twitter! I look forward to engaging with you all and discussing our efforts at (FDOH). We will continue promoting public health excellence in our great state,” Ladapo vowed.
Ladapo’s launch was immediately met with skepticism by a legislative Democrat from Jacksonville, likely the first in a series of critiques.
“Well you can start by telling your boss to stop going after educators that want to keep our kids safe via mask mandates. And you can actually, you know, give sound medical advice,” asserted Rep. Angie Nixon, who represents House District 14.
Ladapo was a lightning rod for criticism after he was hired weeks ago, when he immediately made his first mark by signing off on a policy leaving quarantining decisions about students exposed to COVID-19 up to their parents, not school or health officials.
Like DeSantis, Ladapo opposes mask mandates, government shutdowns, and vaccine mandates. He recently wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal expressing those opinions. He also co-wrote an opinion piece for The New York Daily News in October 2020 promoting hydroxychloroquine.
The Surgeon General was uncompromising in comments last month introducing himself to Florida media.
“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.
While Democrats are not enthused with Ladapo, at least one Republican legislator welcomed him to Twitter almost immediately.
“Welcome to Twitter! We are lucky to have you in #Florida. People are flocking here because this is the best place to live, work, and raise a family. Glad that you will help keep it that way,” enthused Rep. Jason Fischer, also of Jacksonville.
Ladapo’s appointment is subject ultimately to Senate confirmation, but that is more a formality than a worry for the Governor’s Office.
The previous Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, had his own controversies coming into the job, a role he was tapped for by DeSantis when COVID-19 and the ongoing mitigation debates could not be imagined, even as some Democrats raised concerns ahead of the March 2020 full Senate vote.
The drama with Rivkees was not virus-related, however.
Rivkees faced scrutiny and tough questions in committee hearings, where concerns about a history of sexually suggestive comments and his intention to continue working at the University of Florida pushed some Democrats into opposition.
As well, Rivkees wrote a memoir documenting the surprisingly bawdy world at a previous hospital where he worked, describing “break-room sex, drug abuse and a long list of … women” moving in and out of the physician’s life.
Ultimately, though, he was confirmed by a 31-9 vote.
Rivkees, unlike Ladapo, did not have much of a social media presence. His personal account disappeared early in his tenure.
Ladapo, by contrast, seems intent on leaving a more pronounced footprint.
Christine Jordan Sexton and Scott Powers contributed reporting to this post.
Excited to be on Twitter! I look forward to engaging with you all and discussing our efforts at @HealthyFla. We will continue promoting public health excellence in our great state.
— Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD (@FLSurgeonGen) October 6, 2021