When pressed for straight answers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tends to give decent answers about the pandemic. Despite his passivity and indifference, the Republican governor, for example, has rightfully said that Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and Floridians should get them.
But DeSantis also tapped Dr. Joseph Ladapo to serve as the state's new surgeon general, and when it comes to the ongoing public health crisis, his answers are anything but decent. NBC News reported yesterday:
Florida's new surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo during a press conference Thursday questioned the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, denounced all mandates in workplaces and argued people would face more health repercussions by losing their jobs because they refused to comply with requirements.... Ladapo invoked anecdotal examples and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories to argue against the vaccines, according to footage from WFLA, the NBC News station in Tampa.
"I mean, you hear these stories, people telling you what's been happening in their lives — nurses, pregnant women who are being forced to sort of put something in their bodies that we don't know all there is to know about yet," the state surgeon general said. "No matter what people on TV tell you, it's not true. We're going to learn more about the safety of these vaccines."
After needlessly questioning the safety of the vaccines, Ladapo went on to needlessly question the efficacy of the vaccines.
He added that Floridians should "stick with their intuition," as opposed to following the guidance of public health officials who actually know what they're talking about. Why the public at large is supposed to rely on what they intuitively believe might be true, despite not having any background in epidemiology, is unclear.
Ladapo said all of this during an event with DeSantis — the governor who thought it'd be a good idea to make him the surgeon general of the state.
As unsettling as Ladapo's weird rhetoric was, none of this came as a surprise. As we discussed last month, before taking office, the doctor spent much of the pandemic questioning the value of vaccines and the efficacy of masks, while simultaneously touting ineffective treatments such as hydroxychloroquine.
The editorial board of The Orlando Sentinel recently described Ladapo as a "COVID crank" who's been "associated with a right-wing group of physicians whose members include a physician who believes infertility and miscarriages are the result of having sex with demons and witches during dreams."
And as The Tallahassee Democrat reported two weeks ago, Ladapo's "first act as surgeon general came a day after his appointment, when he issued an emergency rule that took away school authority to quarantine students exposed to those who tested positive" for Covid-19.
Florida has seen more than 3.6 million Covid-19 cases. The virus has claimed the lives of nearly 59,000 Floridians. The Sunshine State would benefit from having a leading public health official who believes in vaccines, masks, and sensible protections during a pandemic.
Instead, Floridians have DeSantis' handpicked surgeon general, whose judgment appears to be getting worse, not better.