Ahead of hearing, top House Democrat says Joseph Ladapo’s bona fides aren’t there on COVID-19
Joseph Ladapo's UF colleagues blast him for relying on 'faulty science. Image via Colin Hackley.

'The decision is being based purely on politics and nothing to do with actual science and medical sciences.'

When Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo steps before senators for his first confirmation hearing, leading House Democrats hope their fellow lawmakers ask the controversial doctor about his COVID-19 experience and stance.

The Senate Health Policy Committee is slated Wednesday to weigh Ladapo’s appointment to be the state’s top public health official. House Minority Leader Evan Jenne told reporters Monday that he wants to hear lawmakers flesh out Ladapo’s medical expertise.

Reports have challenged Ladapo’s claims he worked as a frontline COVID-19 doctor at the University of California Los Angeles’ flagship hospital before Gov. Ron DeSantis selected him in September as Florida’s next Surgeon General.

Jenne said Ladapo has done great work on obesity, but the Dania Beach Democrat questioned how that translates to the state’s COVID-19 response. The pandemic has nothing to do with obesity, he continued.

“Where are his bona fides on that, because reading through his CV, they’re just not there,” Jenne said.

However, there is a connection between obesity and COVID-19, namely as a comorbidity. Ladapo has called age the biggest risk factor for severe COVID-19 infection, but he has also flagged obesity, hypertension and diabetes as other major risk factors.

Ladapo’s comments about public health more generally have been overshadowed in the media by his comments on schools, masks, vaccines, hydroxychloroquine and testing. Like DeSantis, Ladapo has criticized vaccine mandates and taken other positions that buck the general consensus of medical experts.

“This is a political pick,” Jenne said. “The Surgeon General in the state of Florida, the decision is being based purely on politics and nothing to do with actual science and medical sciences.”

House Democrats’ Policy Chair, Rep. Fentrice Driskell, said she hopes senators compare and contrast Ladapo’s COVID-19 “theories and ideas” with the “prevailing thoughts” from the medical community.

Ladapo already has a rocky history with the Senate. Boca Raton Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky in October asked Ladapo to leave her office for refusing to wear a mask despite her saying she had a serious medical condition. Polsky later revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican, sided with Polsky in the matter, twice condemning Ladapo for his actions and comments. Despite calls from critics for the Senate to deny Ladapo’s confirmation, DeSantis has defended the doctor.

“It’s going to be interesting to see whether or not the Governor’s Office has smoothed things over with the Senate or if there are any questions asked about that,” Driskell said. “But I think if our colleagues can keep it fact-based, I think that’s more than enough fodder to try to evaluate whether Dr. Ladapo is fit to hold this office.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • zhombre

    January 24, 2022 at 1:22 pm

    “Reports have challenged.” BS. Anonymous sources adduced by Rachel Maddow, hardly an objective reporter. Garbage and slander.

    • Nicole Sandler

      January 24, 2022 at 3:06 pm

      Get your partisan head out of your ass and recognize what’s going on here. Fucking moron.

        • Greg Cott

          January 27, 2022 at 9:31 pm

          He’s CV doesn’t say whether he treated COVID patients at UCLA. It just states his credentials. The article is whether he lied about that.

      • zhombre

        January 24, 2022 at 4:12 pm

        You seem nice.

  • tom palmer

    January 24, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Charlatanism seems to be the DeSantis model.

  • Ocean Joe

    January 26, 2022 at 6:03 am

    It’s one thing to cater to the anti-vaxxer crowd with after-the-fact alternative treatments, but it’s really tragic that we allowed politics to displace medical science from the beginning. The best evidence of whether vaccines work is the proportion of unvaccinated among those hospitalized or have died.
    Ladapo was clearly brought in to say what a governor with no medical training wants to be said. A vaccinated governor who is extremely bright and made that decision about his own health.
    But one thing Ladapo has right: obesity is a co-morbidity, and if you are overweight job 1 should be to get to a normal weight regardless of covid.

  • Savannah

    January 26, 2022 at 8:11 am

    Dump Fidel DeSantis !

Comments are closed.


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