Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and two of his aides were asked to leave the office of state Sen. Tina Polsky after they were given masks and declined, Florida Politics reported. Ladapo supposedly suggested transferring the meeting outside as an alternative.
"I don't want to go outside," Polsky said she told Ladapo after he made the offer. "I want you to sit in my office and talk to you." Polsky said there was a brief back-and-forth, and then she finally asked whether there was a reason he couldn't wear a mask.
"He just smiles and doesn't answer. He's very smug," Polsky recalled. "And I told him several times, `I have this very serious medical condition.' And he said, 'That's OK,' like it has nothing to do with what we are talking about."
Ladapo had asked that he and the Senator meet as he plans to explore reconfirmation as surgeon general for the future session.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stressed that people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have an extended risk of illness if they catch COVID-19.
Eventually, Polsky said she asked Ladapo to leave her office, which he agreed to do, she said. But the Senator said before going, Ladapo remarked, "Sometimes I try to reason with unreasonable people for fun." Weesam Khoury, a Department of Health spokesperson, confirmed the meeting but said Ladapo didn't make a comment.
"Dr. Ladapo is committed to meeting with members of the Legislature regardless of their party affiliation to discuss policy, even when they do not agree on the subject at hand," Khoury said in an email. "Meetings between highly regarded and intelligent, elected and appointed officials happen all the time, and it is disappointing you don't hear about them more — but it is probably because the only time they get reported is when a genuine meeting turns into a media headline expected from a gossip column."
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Sept. 21 that he was appointing Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a Nigerian-born alien to the United States, to be the surgeon general and secretary of the Florida Department of Health. Ladapo currently serves as a teacher at the University of Florida. Before this, he was an associate professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Ladapo has similar opinions to DeSantis, who has vehemently opposed mandates on masks and vaccinations, in addition to business lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that these infringe on people's rights. According to the New York Times coronavirus tracker, Florida recently reported a drop in COVID-19 cases, with infections per 100,000 residents dropping by 12 points, a 48% decrease.