Senate President blasts Florida Surgeon General for his ‘unprofessional’ actions

Simpson sent a memo to all members and Senate staff.

Senate President Wilton Simpson late Saturday sharply criticized a top official in the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis for failing to adhere to a request from state Sen. Tina Polsky to wear a mask while visiting her in her office.

Polsky, a Democrat from Palm Beach County who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is about to start radiation treatment, asked Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo to leave her office this past week after Ladapo refused to don a mask.

Simpson sent a memo to all members and Senate staff calling the incident “disappointing” and said that “it shouldn’t take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other’s level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic.”

“What occurred in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate,” the Republican leader wrote. “While there is no mask mandate in the Senate, Senators and staff can request social distancing and masking within their own offices. If visitors to the Senate fail to respect these requests, they will be asked to leave.”

Simpson’s move comes just two days after DeSantis surprised legislative leaders when he publicly said he was calling a Special Session to pass laws aimed at blunting vaccine mandates pushed by either local governments or private businesses.

The memo may also suggest that Ladapo, who was appointed to his post in late September, may run into trouble as he seeks confirmation with the Senate during the upcoming session.

Polsky was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in August. Ladapo and his two legislative aides went to Polsky’s office this past week as he tries to build support for his confirmation vote. In an exclusive interview with Florida Politics, Polsky said she asked Ladapo to wear a mask, telling the state surgeon general she had a “serious medical condition.”

Polsky said he offered to go outside when she asked him to put the mask on, but she declined.

“I don’t want to go outside,” Polsky said she told Ladapo after he made the offer. “I want you to sit in my office and talk to you.”

Polsky said there was a brief back-and-forth, and then she finally asked whether there was a reason he couldn’t wear a mask but said he smiled and didn’t answer. She then asked him to leave.

Polsky told Florida Politics Saturday night that she was “overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from my colleagues and friends about my diagnosis as well as the unfortunate encounter with the Surgeon General. I am very grateful to the Senate President Simpson for his strong statement on behalf of myself and the Senate as a whole.”

When asked about the incident, Weesam Khoury, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, previously told Florida Politics that “Dr. Ladapo is committed to meeting with members of the Legislature regardless of their party affiliation to discuss policy, even when they do not agree on the subject at hand. Meetings between highly regarded and intelligent, elected and appointed officials happen all the time, and it is disappointing you don’t hear about them more — but it is probably because the only time they get reported is when a genuine meeting turns into a media headline expected from a gossip column.”

Representatives from the Governor’s Office did not immediately respond to the request for comment Saturday night about Simpson’s memo.

Ladapo has been critical of lockdowns and mask mandates as steps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the deaths of nearly 59,000 Floridians. During a press conference with DeSantis Thursday, Ladapo expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of vaccines.

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.


  • The young Claude Kirk

    October 24, 2021 at 8:08 am

    This was a callous disrespect by the surgeon general. He’s not going to be confirmed by the Legislature.
    The Governor must dump him on Monday if not sooner.
    We should all have the common sense to respect others regardless of politics.
    Governor the man will become an albatross around your kneck if you delay or even worse try to hold on to him.
    Quite likely your Surgeon General was [note I’m using the past tense already] a leftist plant that tricked you into hireing him.
    Make the scurvy dog walk the plank Monday morning Governor. This is Not one of those Andrew Gillum “Monkey It Up” moments regardless of your Surgeon General’s skin pigmentation.
    Dump the traitor no later than Monday Noon Sir.

    • BJohnM

      October 24, 2021 at 9:39 am

      I wish you were correct Claude, but despite the strongly-worded rebuke by the Senate President, the Florida Senate is ruled by the Republican Party, and Moron Ron will get who he wants.

    • Bruderly David E

      October 24, 2021 at 9:42 pm

      “Leftist plant”-Gov Death hires Dr Death & you have the audacity to blame leftists…for right wing stupidity. Get a life…

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    October 24, 2021 at 8:16 am

    Dr. Ladapo’s refusal was incredibly unacceptable. and should not be confirmed as Surgeon General. Gov. DeSantis should remove him. He is the wrong person for the job.

    • A Hawk

      October 24, 2021 at 10:25 am

      His incredible unacceptability is very likely the precise reason DeSantis chose him.

  • RichardInJax

    October 24, 2021 at 9:29 am

    Dr. Ladapo is 5% physician and 95% ideologue. That ideology is diametrically opposed to his mission and couple that with his inability to sidestep his politics and fealty to DeSantis he’s probably the worst candidate the Governor could have chosen. We shouldn’t forget that in DeSantis’s eyes Lapado’s disqualifying character and traits are precisely what the governor was looking for. COVID irresponsibility, sociopathic disregard for the lives of Floridians and obsession with economic “numbers” for the purposes of the Governor’s political pursuits only.

    Florida made a horrific choice when selecting DeSantis as Governor. Thousands are dead because of his inaction on COVID and his obstruction of those that would act. That incompetence does not have to be amplified by the selection of Lapado as a DeSantis cohort. If our legislature has an inkling of concern for the people of Florida left this awful man will go down in flames.
    Keep Floridian’s alive. Kill this man’s nomination.

    • Let's Go Brandon

      October 24, 2021 at 10:25 am

      Who should we trust again, Harvard med school graduate who is most definitely smarter than you, or random website poster with an opinion? Real hard choice here.

      • jagdar

        October 24, 2021 at 11:03 am

        His expertise is in cardiology, not infectious disease. Harvard Medical School does not agree wtih his covid position, nor does UCLA Med School where he taught. UCLA even removed all references to his name on their website. Also in disagreement with him are the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

        • Let's Go Brandon

          October 24, 2021 at 10:59 pm

          UCLA are a bunch of cucks living in California—of course they’ll do anything daddy Newsome tells them to do. Btw, Harvard is way more prestigious than UCLA if you didn’t know. And Harvard taught this man, so that’s on them 😂

      • RichardInJax

        October 24, 2021 at 8:34 pm

        I see. Who should we trust? You too are a “random website poster”…or did that escape you? Where did I graduate ..and what is my intellectual capacity? Tell me random poster…

        • Let's Go Brandon

          October 24, 2021 at 10:57 pm

          100% not Harvard, that’s guaranteed lmao

    • A Hawk

      October 24, 2021 at 10:28 am

      I’m not at all sure Florida DID choose DeSantis.
      Considering that he “won” by 4/10ths of 1%, and that his “win” had a similar margin to all of Rick Scott’s elections, I honestly believe the GQP takeover of Florida is deeper than most people suspect.

      • Bruderly David E

        October 24, 2021 at 9:46 pm

        Trump told the world that elections are rigged…since 70% of Republicans believe this claim that makes Gov Death an illegitimate Governor…

    • MikeS

      October 24, 2021 at 11:51 am

      I guess you like to ignore statistics? Under DeSantis the state has outperformed just about every other state in ever metric. If he’s so bad you should move to the NE, the governors there are much more your cup of tea.

      • Slim

        October 24, 2021 at 11:57 am

        Oh sweetie. Do you even know what a statistic is? Florida is one of the worst states in the country re: Covid and that’s before all the deaths DeathSantis has covered up..

        • Cathy

          October 24, 2021 at 2:38 pm

          Totally agree! Can’t imagine how these idiots stumble through the day. I don’t know about you, but my residency in FL far predates DeSantis being governor. The audacity to suggest leaving one’s home is another example of overreach they love so much.

        • FJB

          October 24, 2021 at 11:02 pm

          “Covered up”… whatever makes you sleep at night, stay mad that Florida COVID rates are absolutely plummeting without government facism.

      • RichardInJax

        October 24, 2021 at 8:38 pm

        Well he certainly “out performed” the others in COVID one point Florida was number ONE in the world in that. And that is what we’re talking about? How did he out perform?

        • FJB

          October 24, 2021 at 11:01 pm

          Still can’t beat California with that number one death spot, good thing they have all those draconian mandates 😂

  • Sandra Duffy

    October 24, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Shocking behaviour for anyone and indicative of antisocial tendencies but utterly beyond the pale for a doctor! A man that indifferent to the health of the vulnerable doesn’t deserve office in any capacity connected to public health.

  • Tom

    October 24, 2021 at 9:54 am

    Wah, Wah and Wah

    I know all of you including the Simpson wear masks 24/7. Go get a life.

    • A Hawk

      October 24, 2021 at 10:31 am

      Someone else mentioned this elsewhere, and I’m going to repeat it here:

      I wonder if this classless clown would also refuse to wear a mask if asked to while in the presence of Casey DeSantis, who has also been diagnosed with cancer. I’d bet he’d find a mask and slap it on REAL fast.

      • Slim

        October 24, 2021 at 11:58 am


  • The young Claude Kirk

    October 24, 2021 at 10:23 am

    Look at the leftist comments Governor they all want you to stand by your man to the bitter end of a no vote on Legislative confirmation. Thus ruining your political career and giving the fake news a wide open shot to trash you each and every day up to and beyond Legislative Non Confirmation day.
    Thats what the left and fake news want you to do. Thats exactly why Ladapos got to go NOW!
    Monday morning Governor right after the leftist fake news morning talk shows would be good enough. However Sir thats what a slacker would do. Step up my man – today is Sunday there is absolutely no reason for you not to take out the trash to the curb today Sir. Pick up your phone right now Sir and demand his resignation.

  • FJB

    October 24, 2021 at 10:24 am

    If you want to wear masks for the rest of your life, including in your own office, be my guest lmao. I’ll be expressing my maskless freedoms like Ladapo. Clown world.

    • RichardInJax

      October 24, 2021 at 8:45 pm

      WOW..aint you tough!!! that’s an original approach. Why not exorcise your freedom and drive down the left side of the road..driving on the right is a Gum’mint mandate!. While you’re at it tell a judge to stick it and a cop you kiss your backside. Freedom baby!!! Don’t pay your taxes and blow off putting a plate on your car. All Gum’mint requirements..mandates ..even.

      Do you have any idea how tired your words are? How trite..and hackneyed they are?

      • FJB

        October 24, 2021 at 11:04 pm

        Lmao stay mad nerd, use your freedom to go cry about it maybe, unless of course you’re not allowed because Joe Biden told you so

  • jagdar

    October 24, 2021 at 11:06 am

    “Freedom” does not come at the expense of civic responsibility and public health.

    • BB

      October 24, 2021 at 11:05 pm

      Unless you’re in Florida

  • Mike S

    October 24, 2021 at 11:46 am

    How all the ignorant left stay in Florida is beyond me. They should all move to California with the other idiots and allow the free thinking , freedom loving conservatives to enjoy life.

    As for mask wearing, what does having cancer have to do with someone else wearing a mask? If the vaccines work why worry about the mask? Does every single person that she comes within 6 feet of wear a mask?

    You people have been brainwashed and there is zero hope for you.

    • Kate

      October 24, 2021 at 12:00 pm

      This is why people need a good education. The smart among us know that cancer takes down your immune system which renders vaccines less effective, thus requiring better protection from the public. But if you’re fine with killing cancer patients, then you’ve found your favorite governor.

      • Tom

        October 24, 2021 at 9:30 pm

        You are a pathetic liar , period.
        Typical Dum crat.
        Shame on your pathetic lies.
        America’s Gov., Gov Ron saves life’s, jobs, people, making Florida greater.

  • Stephen Landers

    October 24, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    Regardless of your belief in masks and vaccines (and their efficacy is proven), surely when a person requests that you wear a mask in their presence, that request should be honoured.

    It’s no different from when you go to a house and the host asks you to remove your shoes. You remove them as a matter of respect, unless you are some kind of boorish clod. It’s not a matter of politics, unless common courtesy is now political.

    • rassalas

      October 25, 2021 at 10:55 am

      I’m sorry, but if you leave your house, and are meeting people for work or leisure, the onus is on you to control your hypochondria.
      Hyochondria is a known mental illness. Crazy people don’t get to tell sane people what to do.

  • Ocean Joe

    October 24, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Good to see a few Republicans finally stand up, or at least crouch in the face of an incredibly unqualified Desantis appointee.
    He scoured the country for a fellow denialist, and in spite of the constant harping about how screwed up California is, that’s where he went to find this guy.

    • Tom

      October 24, 2021 at 6:47 pm

      Ovens Joe you ate the last one to pass judgement.

      Wah, Wah, and wah.
      My God.

      Good going FP, way to create a liberal scream. Btw, all the hysterical leftist Dems were quoted in the misleading headline article.

      Sounds like a set up. Dud all you libs get a text to reply.

      I’m sure Joe will do a extra and peter will stay up late all night.

  • Rivk Siegfried

    October 24, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    These tRump TRAITORS are disgusting “human” beings who have NO RESPECT for other people, reality, truth, or science. They are destroying this country and the world. They should be ousted next election.

    • rassalas

      October 25, 2021 at 10:50 am

      Did you take your meds today? Please seek mental help

  • Ben Caulkins

    October 24, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    What a quack.

  • FJB

    October 24, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Blah, blah, blah, blah, and blah. No one outside of the Capitol cares

  • Lazare

    October 24, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    Ladapo might think that he doesn’t need a mask, but based on his attitude he probably needs diapers.

  • Tom

    October 24, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    Total set up by FP and Sen. Polsky.
    Her situation was most recently announced.
    Hysteria is never the right way to address things.

    Good going FP, peter and joe have something to write about.

  • Larry reynolds

    October 24, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    Desantis won’t remove him, but the state Senate doesn’t have to confirm him. It’s really in their hands to put a stop to people like him who don’t believe in science.

    • rassalas

      October 25, 2021 at 10:48 am

      Science is a collection of postulates and theories. They are only considered true until a better understanding comes along. To say you believe science only reflects your educational failings.

  • Sue

    October 24, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    DiSantos stated that there should be no mask mandates, he said “people should do what they want with their own body” but the a-hole wants to ban abortion rights. Apparently he meant MEN should be able to choose what to do with their own body, not women. Chauvinist pig.

  • Rich

    October 25, 2021 at 4:53 am

    Melinda, you are so vicious and racist and apparently ignorant. Are you even an American? Or are you a internet troll typing into a computer in Russia?

    • Jane Healey

      October 25, 2021 at 10:01 am

      Based on her tenuous – at best – grasp of the English language, you’re probably right. Russian troll farm.

  • rassalas

    October 25, 2021 at 10:46 am

    These people acting all surprised that this accomplished medical professional refused to engage in pandemic virtue signaling, are just being racist because he is black.

Comments are closed.


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