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Hundreds of doctors call for more scrutiny into DeSantis' surgeon general nominee

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his nomination of Dr. Joseph Ladapo on Sept. 21.

A letter to state senators from the national group Committee to Protect Health Care outlined a series of questions about Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s positions, including his opposition to required masks in schools.

More than 350 Florida doctors signed a letter asking the state Senate to closely scrutinize Gov. Ron DeSantis’ selection for surgeon general before confirm the nomination during next year's legislative session.

The letter Tuesday outlined a series of questions about nominee Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s positions, including his opposition to required masks in schools. Many of his approaches to the COVID pandemic put him into conflict with the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics on masks for children.

Read the doctors' letter to state lawmakers on Dr. Joseph Ladapo

The letter was sent by the Committee to Protect Health Care, a national advocacy organization that includes medical professionals and is dedicated to protect and expand health care for all Americans.

“As a physician, I’m honestly concerned that Dr. Ladapo’s actions around the pandemic thus far have been not just unhelpful, but dangerous,” Bernard Ashby, a Miami cardiologist and Florida state lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, said in a statement.

The letter also calls on the Republican-controlled Senate to look into Ladapo’s alleged ties to American Frontline Doctors, a conservative political group accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19.

Among the letter's signees is Dr. Leonardo Alonso, a Jacksonville emergency physician, who worries patients will get confused with someone at the top spreading misinformation.

“I see a significant amount of people in the emergency department that are not vaccinated unfortunately even this late in the game, and you know I ask them why and you get different answers,” Alonso said. “The paranoia is limitless and then to throw a doctor or a medical doctor to make some of these ridiculous claims he's making in a position of authority just muddies the water even more.”

DeSantis announced his nomination Sept. 21, when Ladapo criticized fear of COVID as a foundation for making public health decisions.

“Florida will completely reject fear as a way of making policies in public health,” Ladapo said.

Ladapo, who earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, has worked as an associate professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine but recently received a professorship at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Information from News Service of Florida was used in this report.

Copyright 2021 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Claire Heddles
Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting.