TALLAHASSEE — More than 350 medical professionals across Florida have signed a letter to the Florida Senate urging them to exercise their authority to ask certain questions of Governor Ron DeSantis’ selection for surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo. The physicians and health care professionals who signed the letter, organized by the Committee to Protect Health Care, noted their concern about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic’s toll on their patients and communities, and urged senators to help clarify Dr. Ladapo’s commitment to Floridians’ health and safety.
“This ongoing pandemic has made it abundantly clear that leadership at the state and national levels has life-or-death consequences for our communities, so it’s critical that our surgeon general advocate fiercely for health strategies that save lives,” said Dr. Bernard Ashby, a cardiologist in Miami and Florida State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care. “As a physician, I’m honestly concerned that Dr. Ladapo’s actions around the pandemic thus far have been not just unhelpful, but dangerous. Dr. Ladapo’s association with the infamous peddlers of disinformation, America’s Frontline Doctors, as well as his stances against masks in schools and in favor of allowing dangerous infections instead of promoting vaccinations, lead medical professionals to seriously worry about his commitment to Floridians’ health.”
Dr. Mona Mangat, an immunologist in St. Petersburg and Board Member for the Committee to Protect Health Care, said:
“Governor DeSantis’ approach to the pandemic has been nothing short of disastrous, and I fear that his selection for surgeon general will continue our state on the path of unnecessary illnesses and deaths. With universal masking in schools and widespread vaccinations, we could easily put this pandemic behind us, but both DeSantis and Dr. Ladapo have opposed utilizing these tools, despite the overwhelming evidence from health experts. We hope that members of the Florida Senate will use their authority to question Dr. Ladapo about pandemic protections and help ensure that our surgeon general is making choices for our state for the health of our children and our whole state.”
Signers of the letter are included here.
The full text is included below:
FLORIDA MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS CALL ON STATE SENATE TO FULLY VET SURGEON GENERAL PICK ON PANDEMIC RESPONSE
To the Honorable members of the Florida state Senate:
The nomination of Dr. Joseph Ladapo as Florida’s surgeon general is an opportunity for policymakers to clearly define our state’s strategy for effectively addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As physicians practicing across Florida, we see and experience firsthand the profound challenges of the pandemic and its terrible toll on the families and communities we serve. Our patients and your constituents, these families have suffered — and continue to suffer — death, sickness, long-term health complications and financial and emotional hardships. From a medical perspective, our hospitals and health care facilities are pushed to the breaking point, medical workers are burning out every day and the resources we need to care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients alike are stretched thin. As long as COVID-19 is allowed to continue ravaging our communities, our neighborhoods and our schools, Florida’s health care infrastructure will remain in a state of extreme fragility.
As you know, Florida’s physicians have advocated for months on behalf of our patients for more proactive science- and evidence-driven safety strategies against COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, thousands of Florida physicians have made our voices heard, sharing our stories as well as our patients’ pain and suffering in the hope that our state’s leaders would follow medical guidance and best practices so we can better protect and save lives. More than 54,000 Floridians are now dead from COVID-19, and another 3.5 million have been infected, many of them with lingering medical complications that will diminish their health and quality of life for years.
We hope that Dr. Ladapo will join the physicians and health care professionals who continue to work tirelessly to keep our communities safe during this pandemic, and advocate fiercely for strategies that science and the overwhelming body of evidence show can protect and save lives.
To that end, we urge you to exercise your authority to ask questions of this nominee, given your role in confirming them, to clarify Dr. Ladapo’s commitment to the health and safety of all Floridians during the pandemic. For the health and future wellbeing of the people we serve, we encourage you to uncover the following questions:
What evidence does Dr. Ladapo have to oppose universal mask wearing in schools, contradicting recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association?
What relationship does Dr. Ladapo have with the group America’s Frontline Doctors, which has extracted millions of dollars from tens of thousands of Americans by selling ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, which are ineffective and even potentially dangerous treatments against COVID-19 that AFLDS has promoted and continues to promote?
Does Dr. Ladapo believe that promoting natural immunity through widespread infections, which could lead to tens of thousands of additional deaths in Florida, is preferable to vaccinations, and why?
Would Dr. Ladapo do anything differently from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pandemic response, which has focused primarily on opposing mask and vaccine requirements, and why?
What would Dr. Ladapo do to reduce health inequities in underserved populations that have been exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, including expanding access to care, addressing medical bias and overcoming other hurdles?
Physicians and health care professionals across Florida eagerly await Dr. Ladapo’s responses and your discoveries to these questions. Through the confirmation process, you can help clarify Dr. Ladapo’s — and by extension, our state government’s — commitment to science- and evidence-based safety measures so we can better protect the health and safety of all Floridians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
About the Committee to Protect Health Care
The Committee to Protect Health Care, formerly known as the Committee to Protect Medicare, is a national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals, and advocates who are building a pro-patient health care majority in Congress and in states so that we can live in an America where everyone has the health care they need to thrive. To learn more: www.committeetoprotect.org