Dr. Joseph Ladapo was confirmed by the Florida Senate on Wednesday as the state’s next Surgeon General.
The Senate voted 24-15 in favor of Ladapo after roughly 40 minutes of debate, making him the state’s 6th Surgeon General, despite opposition from Democrats over his views on COVID-19 mandates.
Ladapo, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, was appointed by DeSantis in September to replace Dr. Scott Rivkees and has been outspoken in sharing his views against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other virus-related health policies.
He told the Miami Herald on Wednesday, “I’m really looking forward to just focusing my energy and attention on the health of Floridians. I know things have been pretty politically charged. I want to assure everyone that I’m really passionate about health, about good health. I’ve been consistently talking about good health since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Back in September, Ladapo said Florida would “reject fear,” in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that there had been a lot of fear associated with the disease, which is caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
While Ladapo said the virus should be acknowledged, he added that it shouldn’t scare people. “Unfortunately, it has been a centerpiece and the expiration date is now, it’s done,” he said.
“I read a recent study that said that after the lockdown the mortality increased,” he said. “Lockdowns are bad.”
The Surgeon General, who is the son of Nigerian immigrants, has also declined to confirm or deny whether he has been vaccinated against COVID-19, telling lawmakers that it is his “private medical information.”
Last month, Ladapo, while issuing new guidance for COVID-19 testing, said people need to get back to a “sense of normalcy” in society and “unwind this sort of planning and living one’s life around testing.”
“It’s really time for people to be living; to make the decisions they want regarding vaccination; to enjoy the fact that many people have natural immunity, and to unwind this preoccupation with only COVID as determining the boundaries and constraints and possibilities of life,” he said.
Some Senate Democrats have argued that Ladapo is not fit to be Surgeon General due to his views on vaccines and masking.
Senator Tina Polsky, a Democrat, has also criticized Ladapo after he refused to wear a mask during a meeting in her office in October 2021. Polsky has asked him to wear a mask because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy at the time.
Last month, Florida House Democrats even walked out of a committee meeting ahead of a vote to approve Ladapo’s nomination, stating that he could not “adequately answer questions on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, Republicans unanimously advanced Ladapo to the next round of Senate confirmations, despite the walkout.
On Wednesday, Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried released a statement following Ladapo’s appointment, stating that he was “an anti-science quack” who had no place in overseeing the state’s public health Service.
“As I’ve said before, I believe Dr. Ladapo is an anti-science quack who doesn’t belong anywhere near our state’s Surgeon General office, let alone running it,” Fried said in a statement.
“But now that he’s been confirmed, it’s my sincere hope that he and Governor DeSantis choose to focus on saving lives and preventing unnecessary illness instead of continuing their absurd promotion of conspiracy theories and opposition to proven public health measures—but I’m not going to hold my breath.”
But State Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach), referring to the earlier incident in which Ladapo refused to wear a mask in Polsky’s office, said that while he agreed Ladapo had made mistakes, he deserved to be given a chance.
“If you judge me on my worst day, where would I be in my life?” Bean said according to Politico. “And so I ask you to give this nominee a chance.”
Ladapo graduated from Wake Forest University and received his MD from Harvard Medical School and his PhD in Health Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
He will be teaching at the University of Florida as well as working in his new role as the state’s new surgeon general.