Gov. DeSantis defends Surgeon General’s record on COVID-19 protocols

He credited the controversial official with reducing COVID-19 transmission in schools.

Gov. Ron DeSantis defended the record of his controversial pick for Surgeon General. And he has made clear he won’t reconsider the nomination

He did so after days of bipartisan criticism of Dr. Joseph Ladapo over a refusal to wear a mask in the office of a cancer-stricken Senator.

A statement from the Governor published across multiple social media platforms made no mention of that incident. Rather, DeSantis praised Ladapo’s prior policies on the COVID-19 pandemic and a low-regulation approach mirroring the Governor’s rhetoric and actions over the past year. Specifically, he credited Ladapo for a reduced infection rate in Florida schools.

“34 days ago, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo signed a rule that empowered Florida parents, eliminated healthy quarantines, and kept healthy kids in school,” DeSantis posted on Facebook. “Today, Florida has the lowest COVID-19 rate in the country, and our schools have seen a 76% decrease in COVID-19 cases since the day the new policy went into effect (and a 90% decrease since August).”

While it’s unclear what rate DeSantis is referencing, Florida has a higher seven-day case rate per 100,000 residents than California, Alabama or Mississippi, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ladapo in September updated a rule issued by former Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, also a DeSantis appointee, and ended a requirement students exposed to COVID-19 enter quarantine. Instead, it left it to parents to decide whether to keep a child home from school if they were exposed to the virus.

The prior policy had rankled many parents upset their children had to learn remotely or miss school entirely, regardless of whether they contracted the coronavirus. But of note, ending that policy would not contribute to a reduction in infection rates; defenders of the rule argue quarantines help limit a virus’ spread.

Ladapo responded to DeSantis’ praise via Twitter.

“Thank you for your leadership, Gov. Ron DeSantis,” he posted. “I look forward to working together as we continue empowering and protecting Floridians.”

In an email to media, DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw confirmed the Governor stands by his nomination of Ladapo. “Governor DeSantis stands by the surgeon general’squalifications for this important role and is not reconsidering the nomination,” she wrote.

“… For any public figure, criticism from media, activist groups, and political opponents is an expected part of the job. This is especially true for a leader like Governor DeSantis, who is unafraid to challenge establishment narratives. The governor respects everyone’s right to express their own opinion, but he will not allow political attacks or misinformed critiques to distract him from his job leading our state and making policies that improve Floridians’ lives.”

But, it’s Ladapo’s meeting with Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, that has placed his professional future in jeopardy. Polsky, who was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in August, asked Ladapo to wear a mask in her office during a meeting.

“I told him I had a serious medical condition,” Polsky said.

But Ladapo refused. Polsky ultimately asked him to leave her office, and said Ladapo on the way out remarked, “Sometimes I try to reason with unreasonable people for fun.”

Ladapo later confirmed parts of Polsky’s account, though importantly not that parting remark, in his own lengthy statement on Tuesday, hours before the Governor’s posts praising him. The Surgeon General defended his own behavior.

“It is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can’t do that when half of my face is covered,” he wrote.

The episode with Polsky prompted Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican, to issue a lengthy statement criticizing Ladapo.

“What occurred in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate,” Simpson stated.

Ladapo’s appointment to Surgeon General remains subject to Senate confirmation.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • PeterH

    October 26, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    DeSantis searched high and low for a physician who substantially differs with Federal protocol regarding masks and vaccinations. In professional circles; their opinion is in an extreme minority here and around the globe.

  • Sister Joan D'Moanae

    October 26, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    Thank goodness brain and heart surgeons can “communicate clearly and effectively” when they have masks on during surgery, because I’m pretty sure attending doctors and nurses need to hear what’s being said! Perhaps Dr. Ladapo should find out what their secret is (I suspect one of their tips would be to take his head out of the governor’s ass, then try the mask that way). Poor man, bless his heart.

  • Tom

    October 26, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    Pop goes weasel Peter H., go defend the Lincoln org. You know nothing. Just like the rest of the Manchurians.

    Weasel, some people were inquiring where you were on the Lincoln predator org earlier.
    I trashed you and Lincoln as always.

  • Professor Emeritus

    October 26, 2021 at 10:51 pm

    Florida had over 17,000 dead in August and September Worst record in the vaccinated world, over 400 dead per million per month . 9 times that of New York and 34 times that of Germany. The world listens to Florida and then carefully does the exact opposite

    • Tom

      October 26, 2021 at 11:28 pm

      Non professor, no emeritus

      Florida is the example to the world for freedom, liberty, free enterprise, economic opportunity, open schooling, school choice scholarship opportunity and reasonable governance. Unlike the tyrannical rule you Dum A Dolts live by,

      America’s Governor is the difference.

      • Phil Morton

        October 27, 2021 at 6:49 am

        We’re extremely tired of disease and death. Those not striving to mediate the cause will not be returned to office.

  • Tom

    October 27, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    Memo news flash Phil.
    You and your Manchurians along with pop goes weasel, liar peter h line InnLa La LA land.

    Covid cannot be stopped period.

Comments are closed.


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