Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo defended on Tuesday his decision not to wear a mask when he met with Florida Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky, who has breast cancer.
”It is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can’t do that when half of my face is covered,” Ladapo wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. ”Having a conversation with someone while wearing a mask is not something I find productive, especially when other options exist.”
The surgeon general’s remarks come after an incident last week. At a meeting, Polsky offered Ladapo and his two aides masks, telling them, according to The Hill, that she had a severe medical condition.
Polsky had not, however, made it publicly known that she has breast cancer. But during the meeting, Ladapo offered Polsky the option to sit outside. But Polsky didn’t want to.
”I don’t want to go outside,” Polsky said, according to Florida Politics. ”I want you to sit in my office and talk to you.”
Polsky told MSNBC that Ladapo ”is completely unfit to be the surgeon general. He didn’t care about my health, so imagine how he would care about the health of 21 million Floridians.”
Since the incident, several other lawmakers have called on Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis to withdraw Ladapo’s nomination.
But as DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw put it, ”the governor respects everyone’s right to express their own opinions, but he will not allow political attacks or misinformed critiques to distract him from his job leading our state and making policies that improve Floridians’ lives.”
Pushaw added that ”Governor DeSantis appointed Dr. Ladapo as State Surgeon General because he is highly qualified for this important role. His academic, clinical, and research background is outstanding, and his data-driven approach to policymaking is vital in public health. The governor stands by this assessment and is not reconsidering Dr. Ladapo’s appointment.”