Politics Florida surgeon general defends not wearing mask in meeting with ill state senator
Florida's top doctor refuses mask, is told to leave meeting
MIAMI (AP) — Florida's top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who told him she had a serious medical condition, officials have confirmed. Florida Senate leader Wilton Simpson, a Republican, sent a memo to senators Saturday regarding the incident at the office of Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky, asking visitors at the building to be respectful with social interactions. Polsky, who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, had not yet made public her breast cancer diagnosis.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo on Wednesday defended his decision to refuse to wear a mask during a meeting with a state senator who has breast cancer.
"It is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can't do that when half of my face is covered," Ladapo said in a tweeted statement.
"Having a conversation with someone while wearing a mask is not something I find productive, especially when other options exist," Ladapo's statement also said.
- Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD (@FLSurgeonGen)
Ladapo's remarks follow an.
Florida GOP Leader Slams DeSantis Official for Not Wearing Mask in Office of Senator With Cancer
"It shouldn't take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other's level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic," Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson said.Ladapo was set to meet state Senator Tina Polsky, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in August, last week. When he arrived, however, Ladapo was not wearing a mask—and when Polsky asked him to put one on due to her diagnosis, he instead offered to go outside, Florida Politics reported.
Polsky offered the surgeon general and his two aides masks and asked them to wear the protective gear because she told them she had a serious medical condition.
At the time of the meeting, the state senator had not made her breast cancer diagnosis public.
Ladapo offered to hold the meeting outside or to sit outside of her office in the hallway, but Polsky "did not consider any of these options to be satisfactory," according to Ladapo's tweet.
"He is completely unfit to be the surgeon general. He didn't care about my health, so imagine how he would care about the health of 21 million Floridians,".
As a result of the incident with Polsky, several lawmakers have called for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to withdraw Ladapo's nomination for surgeon general. If that does not happen, the lawmakers, including Polsky, have said the state Senate should block his confirmation, .
In an opinion column for, Ladapo said that masks have "little or no effect on respiratory virus transmission."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, has warned that cancer patients are at a higher risk to have severe COVID-19 cases. The CDC has also advised that people with weakened immune systems and those in higher-risk settings should wear masks as research supports their effectiveness.The Hill has reached out to DeSantis for comment.
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