TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s Senate has confirmed Dr. Joseph Ladapo as the new surgeon general for the state.
Ladapo was confirmed on a party-line vote of 24 to 15, with Democrats saying the doctor was dangerously unqualified, while Republicans said he was a man who “looked at the facts,” as one senator put it.
Ladapo’s appointment by Gov. Ron DeSantis became contentious because of his controversial opinions about COVID-19, including an insistence that the federal government was hiding facts about the vaccine.
He also rejected other common public health policies, including masks and quarantining students who were exposed to the virus.
Ladapo, when his nomination was announced in September, said U.S. public COVID policy had been about scare tactics.
“We are done with fear,” Ladapo said. “That is something that, unfortunately, has been a center point of health policy here in the United States since the start of the pandemic. It’s over here.”
In January, when Ladapo’s confirmation came up during a committee hearing, the Democratic members of the committee walked out and abstained from their vote, complaining that Ladapo was not properly answering their questions. Republicans, who make up the majority, approved Ladapo unanimously.
“Do you believe that vaccines in fighting against a pandemic like COVID-19 are effective?” one Democrat pressed.
“The question is a scientific one, and it’s one that is answered with data. The question is informed by data on specific outcomes and specific therapies. So that’s the scientific question,” Ladapo said
A son of immigrants from Nigeria, Ladapo graduated from medical school at Harvard and was a physician and researcher at UCLA before being appointed by DeSantis. He also is a professor at the University of Florida through what is known as an intergovernmental agreement.
Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, prompted Ladapo to disclose that he is paid $430,000 to $440,000 a year in the combined roles.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.