Florida Democrats have about had it with Gov. Ron DeSantis—a man who never met a health crisis he didn’t want to make significantly worse in his state—and his anti-mask Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who won’t stop dancing around the truth in regards to the efficacy of COVID vaccines. In fact, Democratic state legislators are so over Ladapo being the wishy-washy Aaron Burr of medical experts and refusing to answer questions in a direct and concise manner, they decided they’d rather walk out of his confirmation hearing than waste their time.
According to Tampa Bay Times, a panel of Florida senators on Wednesday advanced the confirmation of Ladapo as DeSantis’ pick to be Florida’s surgeon general. But before that happened, Democrats who had spent the last hour questioning Ladapo on COVID-19 vaccines and other work he’s tasked with as head of the Department of Health decided they just weren’t getting any real answers, and since they represent the minority on the committee and their votes won’t change the outcome anyway, they opted to walk out rather than participate in the vote.
“We don’t feel that we’re getting any answers,” Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) said. “The Florida Senate Democrats in this committee now are going to abstain, walk out and come back when we have more business.”
So the Republican senators voted to advance Ladapo’s candidacy sending the issue to be heard by another Senate committee before the full state Senate votes on his confirmation.
Democrats were particularly unsatisfied with Ladapo’s non-answers to questions about vaccines and his refusal to wear a mask around state Sen. Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton) in October when she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
DeSantis at the time called Polsky’s complaint “manufactured,” which is also incidentally what he’s appeared to think of the demonstrably real global pandemic in general.
Anyway, Book asked Ladapo three times if he regretted not having the decency to wear a mask around someone whose immune system was already compromised, and three times, Ladapo declined to directly answer the question directly and instead gave a generic politician response saying it’s “very important to respect people’s preferences.”
Book also asked Ladapo five times whether COVID vaccines are effective and he was looking for “yes” or “no” answers, but Lapado decided to straddle the line between telling the peer-reviewed truth and placating his and DeSantis’ anti-vaxxer constituency.
Lapado admitted vaccines offer “reasonable effectiveness” and “relatively high effectiveness” against hospitalization and death, but he claimed they offer “relatively low effectiveness for prevention” against transmission over time.
As the Times reported: “The omicron wave has resulted in an uptick in cases among people who are vaccinated across the country. However, in December, COVID-19-associated hospitalizations were 49 times higher among unvaccinated seniors than they were among seniors who had received vaccines and a booster shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Even Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach), a fellow Republican who voted to advance Ladapo’s nomination, said he understood why Democrats were frustrated with Ladapo responding to simple questions with convoluted Rorschach test answers.
“When you’re asked what time it is, tell us what time it is. And he told us how to build a clock today,” Bean said. “I think that led to the frustration. Is he the guy for the job? He is. Could he do a better job answering questions? He can.”
DeSantis, of course, responded to questions about the hearing in the most characteristically obtuse way possible.
”Dr. Ladapo is a superstar,” he said. “I told him, when you go in here, you are challenging sacred cows, of the corporate press, of some of the establishment people who have been wrong on a lot of stuff. And they’re going to fire at you. And he’s like, ‘You know what? That’s all good.’”
Gotta love how government officials who use their positions to do overreaching things like promoting legislation to whitewash Black history throw out buzz phrases like “the establishment”—as if he doesn’t absolutely represent said “establishment.”
Also here’s another interesting tidbit reported by the Times: “As of Wednesday, Florida, the third most populated state in the nation, had the 17th highest per capita COVID-19 death rate in the country — a rate about 14 percent higher than the national average.” And honestly, those numbers would probably be much worse if most Floridians actually listened to DeSantis and Ladapo, but instead, 73 percent of Floridians ages 5 and up have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the Times.