TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s new surgeon general has only been on the job one month and he is already taking heat after refusing a request to put on a mask in a state Senator’s office.
Last week, Joseph Ladapo was making the rounds in the State Senate office building. That’s when he stopped in to see Senator Tina Polsky, a Democrat.
She told him she has a serious health condition and asked him to wear a mask.
“I ask everyone to wear a mask in my office,” said Polsky, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
But Ladapo refused.
“It was like a negotiation, and at some point I said, you know, if you won’t wear a mask, I know all I need to know about you. You can leave now,” said Polsky.
On the way out, Polsky told us one of her aides heard Ladapo say: “Sometimes I try to reason with unreasonable people for fun.”
“He doesn’t have the basic human skills of a human. He doesn’t have the skills of a physician to care about me as an individual when I told him I had a serious medical condition,” said Polsky.
Senator Polsky was upset because two aides with Ladapo did nothing to encourage mask-wearing and did not wear one themselves.
News4Jax’s calls to the Florida Department of Health on Monday have gone unanswered.
Over the weekend, Polsky’s office received an antisemitic voicemail and numerous hateful emails.
“A couple of them were threatening. Someone said they hoped I died of cancer,” said Polsky.
In a memo to Senators and staff, GOP Senate President Wilton Simpson called the encounter unprofessional and disappointing.
Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Fried said she believes Ladapo has no place in Florida.
“And certainly this is not someone who should be leading our state during a health care crisis,” said Fried.
Even before the incident Sen. Janet Cruz was unhappy with Ladapo, but lamented there was little Democrats could do during his confirmation.
“The majority vote rules,” said Cruz.
After last week’s incident, some Republicans might share her concerns.