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Florida's new surgeon general says COVID-19 vaccines are 'nothing special' and opposes mask mandates

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COVID 19 vaccine
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  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Dr. Joseph Ladapo to surgeon general and secretary of the state's health department on Tuesday.

  • But Ladapo has come under fire for his criticism of COVID-19 vaccines and mask mandates.

  • Ladapo also called COVID-19 vaccines "nothing special" in a recent press conference.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Florida's new surgeon general called COVID-19 vaccines "nothing special" in a recent press conference.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo was appointed to surgeon general and secretary of Florida's health department on Tuesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"Vaccines are up to the person. There is nothing special about them compared to any other preventative measure," Ladapo said at a press conference on Tuesday, according to CBS News. "The state should be promoting good health, and vaccination isn't the only path to that. It's been treated almost like a religion and it's senseless."

Ladapo came under fire for his views on COVID-19, having previously voiced criticism toward mask mandates and vaccines.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Ladapo said he believes mask wearing has "a modest effect on viral transmission," and on Wednesday he signed a new rule allowing students to continue to go to school if they're exposed to an asymptomatic case of COVID-19, WFLA reported.

He has also promoted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 infections.

Health experts, however, have backed research that contradicts Ladapo's theories about COVID-19 protection measures.

Recent data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention show people who are unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people who are vaccinated.

Masks, meanwhile, have been shown to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19, the CDC said, and the Food and Drug Administration has cautioned against using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 outside of a hospital setting.

Ladapo did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Florida has seen high numbers of COVID-19 cases in recent months, and in mid-August, reached a record high of 16,000 hospitalizations, according to data from the Florida Hospital Association.

The state's health department said last week that as of September 16, 70% of people eligible were vaccinated against COVID-19.

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