DeSantis switches Florida to surgeon general who backs his anti-mask, vaxx mandate views

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Florida governor Ron DeSantis (AP)
Florida governor Ron DeSantis (AP)

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has appointed Dr Joseph Ladapo, a graduate from Harvard Medical School and UCLA researcher whose pandemic positions align with the governor, as the state’s next surgeon general.

The new surgeon general’s views on vaccines and mask mandates fall in line with Mr DeSantis’ approach – that government mandates impede on freedom of choice by the individual.

The new surgeon general emphasised his approach as he spoke during a press conference on Tuesday, saying, “Florida will completely reject fear. Fear is done.”

Dr Ladapo replaces Dr Scott Rivkees, who stepped down from the position on 20 September. Dr Ladapo began his new post on Tuesday.

Dr Ladapo has said, “This idea that people don’t get to make their own decisions on issues of health is wrong, and it’s not something that we’re going to be about.” The statement echoes sentiments held by Mr DeSantis on the importance of personal freedom on the matter of mask wearing and Covid-19 vaccination.

Dr Ladapo has questioned the safety and efficacy of Covid vaccinations in the past. He wrote a piece for The Wall Street Journal that cast doubt on the safety of the vaccines, musing that they may be responsible for an uptick in death in countries such as Norway.

Dr Ladapo also wrote against vaccine mandates and their effectiveness in thwarting Covid, again for the Journal. Furthermore, Dr Ladapo wrote for the Journal that the pandemic was overblown, despite hundreds of thousands of deaths nationwide. He also disavowed mask wearing as a distraction from the reality of the pandemic.

In addition to the Wall Street Journal pieces, Dr Ladapo has written an opinion piece for the New York Daily News highlighting coronavirus treatment with hydroxychloroquine. The anti-malarial medication has become popular among some on the right as former president Donald Trump touted it as a potential Covid cure.

Dr Ladapo has previously expressed favour for something known as the Great Barrington Declaration, and, according to the Tampa Bay Times, he also signed a petition to back it. The belief states that the pandemic should ripple through communities, unabated, in order to reach herd immunity through natural infection. As reported by MSNBC, The Great Barrington Declaration has been met with concern by many medical experts.

Dr Ladapo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to the United States at the age of five, according to the Tampa Bay Times. His father was a microbiologist, and Dr Ladapo is married and has three children.

Dr Lapado’s approach of “rejecting fear” regarding the pandemic comes at a time when – according to Becker’s Hospital Review, which uses data from the New York Times’ COVID numbers trackers – the state of Florida averages the second highest daily death toll per 100,000 people in the country.

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