Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) defended Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo after he and State Sen. Tina Polsky had a back-and-forth over mask wearing that garnered much attention across statewide media.
Ladapo initially came under fire for not wearing a mask in a scheduled meeting with Polsky (D- District 29) who cited her recent breast cancer diagnosis as the basis for her request. Ladapo preferred to not wear a mask and asked if they could meet outside, but Polsky insisted on meeting in her own office.
As words were exchanged, Polsky recalled Ladapo’s “smugness.”
“He just smiles and doesn’t answer. He’s very smug,” Polsky said. “And I told him several times, `I have this very serious medical condition.’ And he said, ‘That’s OK,’ like it basically has nothing to do with what we are talking about.”
In the wake of the story being broken, it was revealed that Polsky, just hours before her meeting with Ladapo, was seen maskless with fellow Democrats in committee meetings. Questions were then raised regarding the potential political motivation behind Polsky’s inconsistent mask use.
DeSantis pointed out the same thing in a press conference on Thursday.
“There’s pictures, very close with no mask, in other instances,” DeSantis said. “I don’t see people talking about that, so I think they’re trying to politicize this…”
DeSantis continued by saying Ladapo’s outdoor accommodations seemed “appropriate.”
“I think he offered a lot of accommodations and I think that that’s something that is appropriate to do — to offer accommodation,” DeSantis said.
Numerous Democratic critics called for Ladapo’s resignation, including two of DeSantis’ Democratic challengers, Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-3) and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D).
Surgeon General Ladapo should resign.
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) October 23, 2021
Crist said Ladapo is “unfit” to hold the office of Surgeon General.
“Dr. Ladapo has proven himself time and time again to be unwilling and truly unfit to hold such a high office at a time when our state needs true, medically sound leadership,” Crist said.
However, the DeSantis administration has said they will not be considering Ladapo’s removal from his current position and praised the work he has done in his short stint as surgeon general.
“We know taking kids out of school for lengthy periods of time is disruptive for families and obviously hurts academic achievement,” DeSantis said. “(It) also hurts the ability to participate in activities.”
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo gives remarks” by Governor Ron DeSantis.