Newspaper editors across Florida called Dr. Joseph Ladapo unfit to be the state's surgeon general yesterday as the doctor defended himself for refusing to don a mask at a meeting with a lawmaker who has a serious illness.
Why it matters: The Senate vote to confirm Ladapo, who was picked by Gov. Ron DeSantis to lead the state's health department, is scheduled for the body's next session in January.
- He's getting buried under heaps of fresh controversy just 38 days into the job, but if confirmed, Ladapo would lead the Florida Department of Health and its 17,000 employees. He earns $512,000 a year, a salary jointly paid by the state Department of Health and UF.
Context: Top brass at the University of Florida College of Medicine fast-tracked his hiring, knowing that Gov. Ron DeSantis was eyeing him for the position, according to emails obtained by the USA TODAY Network-Florida.
The latest: The new round of criticism comes as Ladapo weakly defended himself for refusing to don a mask in a meeting with Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, who has breast cancer and starts radiation therapy soon.
- "Having a conversation with someone while wearing a mask is not something I find productive, especially when other options exist," he tweeted. "It is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can't do that when half of my face is covered."
- Polsky told reporters that his demeanor was "smug" as he prodded her to join him outside maskless.
What they're saying: Many newspapers in the Gannett chain ran an editorial that called the pick a "disastrous miscalculation" for DeSantis.
- The Palm Beach Post said DeSantis found a "hardline sycophant" and "a miscreant of a medical professional" in Ladapo.
- The Tampa Bay Times wrote that Ladapo's "disregard for another person's welfare" is "consistent with his flip approach to the pandemic."
Our thought bubble: Somehow doctors for decades upon decades have figured out how to communicate incredibly important information while wearing medical masks, but this one can't?
- If masks stop you from communicating, perhaps Ladapo should try one.
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