Florida’s top doctor rejects Mask and is told to leave the meeting
MIAMI (AP) – Florida’s chief health officer was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask in the office of a state senator who told him she had a serious illness, officials have confirmed.
Florida Senate Chairman Wilton Simpson, a Republican, posted a memo to the Senators on Saturday about the incident at the office of Democratic Senator Tina Polsky, urging visitors to the building to be respectful of social interactions. Polsky, who covers parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, had not yet released her breast cancer diagnosis.
Polsky told The Associated Press about the tense exchange with state surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, which was first reported on the Florida Politics news site. She said Ladapo and two helpers were offered masks and asked to wear them when they arrived for the Wednesday meeting. She didn’t tell him she had breast cancer but said she had a serious condition.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say cancer patients are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 and may not build the same immunity to vaccines.
Ladapo had asked to meet her in Tallahassee, seeking confirmation in the Senate after being appointed to the post by Governor Ron DeSantis last month.
“It was so shocking to me that he treated me like that,” said Polsky. “If he is to be the surgeon general for the next several years, I will be really concerned about a future public health emergency and will not be able to rely on him for the necessary guidance and proper scientific guidance.”
Ladapo offered to go outside, but the senator said she did not want to sit on the metal picnic tables on a warm day when her office is nice and spacious. She said she asked if there was a reason he couldn’t wear a mask, but he didn’t answer.
The Florida Department of Health did not respond to email requests for comments.
Democrats have spoken out against Ladapo’s appointment, criticizing him for comments and actions related to the pandemic.
A day after his job, Ladapo signed new rules that allowed parents to choose whether their children should be quarantined or kept in school after being exposed to people who tested positive for COVID-19.
On Thursday, at a press conference with DeSantis to oppose vaccine mandates, Ladapo said people are uncomfortable with the vaccines because the federal government has not openly talked about the vaccines’ effectiveness and safety, saying there was a ” A concerted effort “to hide stories from people with side effects.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and meets the high standards required for the vaccine to be considered safe. It has been administered to millions and shown to be effective against hospitalization and death. However, immunity to infection can decline over time.
Authorities in Sweden, Denmark and Norway earlier this month suspended or advised against the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in young people because of an increased risk of heart infection, a very rare side effect related to the vaccination.
Ladapo also wrote an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal stating that masks “have little or no effect on the transmission of respiratory viruses.”
The CDC continues to recommend that people with compromised immune systems and people in high-transmission areas wear masks. Studies have confirmed their use, with some finding cloth masks to be less effective.
In the memo from Simpson, the president of the Florida Senate, he said that while senators do not have a mask mandate in the Senate, senators can require social distancing and masking in their offices.
“A cancer diagnosis should not be required for people to respect each other’s comfort in social interactions during a pandemic,” he said. “What happened in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate.”
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