A Democratic state senator suffering from cancer ordered Florida’s controversial Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo out of her office earlier this week when he and his aides refused to wear face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Ladapo was making the rounds of senators’ offices in Tallahassee to court their votes for confirmation as the state’s top public health official.
“I told him I had a serious medical condition,” state Sen. Tina Polsky, who will begin radiation therapy for breast cancer next week, told Florida Politics.
Ladapo, nominated by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), has come under heavy fire for dismissing the importance of masks and vaccines in a state that led the nation in COVID deaths during the delta wave over the summer.
In a press conference on Thursday, Ladapo questioned the efficacy of COVID vaccines, and denounced vaccine mandates for workplaces, characterizing not working as a bigger health risk than potentially dying.
Ladapo offered to talk to Polsky outdoors rather than wear a mask, the senator told Florida Politics.
“I don’t want to go outside,” Polsky recalled responding. “I want you to sit in my office and talk to you.”
When she asked him why he refused to take precautions against spreading COVID recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ladapo “just smiles and doesn’t answer. He’s very smug,” recounted Polsky, who represents sections of Palm Beach and Broward counties.
As he finally agreed to exit her office, Polsky said Ladapo turned to her and said: “Sometimes I try to reason with unreasonable people for fun.”
A Florida Health Department spokesman confirmed Ladapo’s comment, but claimed that it wasn’t directed at Polsky. He did not, however, clarify what other person Ladapo may have been addressing at that moment.
Polsky said she “had a lot of good questions” she wanted to discuss with Ladapo. “But I felt really uncomfortable” talking to him while he refused to wear a mask, she added.
The senator’s husband, Jeff Polsky, tweeted Saturday: “Trust me @FLSurgeonGeneral Don’t mess with” Tina Polsky.