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Florida's new surgeon general refuses mask and is told to leave meeting with state senator

Rep. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, debates during a session Tuesday March 10, 2020, in Tallahassee, Florida's top health official was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of the state senator who told him she had a serious medical condition.
Rep. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and has been undergoing treatment, but she had not made her condition public.

Senate President Wilton Simpson sent a memo to senators saying it was disappointing to learn of the incident at the office of Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky, who is being treated for breast cancer.

Florida's recently appointed surgeon general was asked to leave a meeting after refusing to wear a mask at the office of a state senator who told him she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo had asked to meet Sen. Tina Polsky in Tallahassee as he seeks confirmation in the Senate after being named to the post by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month.

Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, but she had not made her condition public.

Ladapo offered to go outside, but the senator wanted to meet in her office.

Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Republican from Trilby, sent a memo to senators saying it was disappointing to learn of the incident and asking visitors to be respectful.

The memo did not mention Ladapo by name but criticized the refusal to put on a mask after being asked by Polsky.

“The prayers of the entire Senate family are with Senator Polsky as she begins her treatment,” Simpson wrote. “However, it shouldn’t take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other’s level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic.

“What occurred in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate. While there is no mask mandate in the Senate, senators and staff can request social distancing and masking within their own offices. If visitors to the Senate fail to respect these requests, they will be asked to leave.”

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