Last week, during a visit to Senator Tina Polsky’s office, Dr. Joseph Ladapo refused to don a mask even though she notified him that she had a serious medical condition. He was subsequently asked to leave her office. Senator Polsky was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in August.
Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Republican, issued a memo Saturday to all Senate members and staff in which he criticized the Surgeon General’s behavior during the visit. “What occurred in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate,” Simpson 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.”
In reaction to these developments, Florida Democratic Chair Manny Diaz issued the following statement:
“It is a rare day when I agree with Senate President Wilton Simpson, but he was correct in calling Dr. Ladapo’s conduct ‘unprofessional.’ In my estimation, it was worse than that. His failure to acquiesce to Senator Polsky’s simple request to wear a mask while visiting her office showed a callous disregard for the delicate state of her health. As Surgeon General of our state, he has a responsibility to model the highest standards of professionalism and ethics in his profession. His behavior in this instance represents the very opposite of that.
“Florida deserves a Surgeon General that follows the science, not one who validates vaccine hesitancy and anti-masking sentiment. It also deserves one who is willing to put aside his own controversial beliefs to accommodate the health needs of those who are at risk from serious illness or death due to this terrible pandemic. He has proven unfit on both accounts. For that reason, I am calling for Dr. Ladapo to resign immediately. Barring that, Governor DeSantis should withdraw his nomination. If neither of those things happen, I call for the state Senate to reject his nomination when the Legislature convenes in January.”