Democrats walk out of hearing with Florida’s chief medical officer

Surgeon General of Florida Dr. Joseph Ladapo came close to confirmation in the Senate on Wednesday after a tense hearing in which Democrats accused the state’s chief medical officer of dodging questions about his coronavirus policy and stormed out before casting their votes.

Ladapo, appointed in September Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, brought national attention to his alliance with the governor in resisting COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other virus policies enacted by the White House and federal health officials.

In Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate Health Policy Committee, Democrats tried to pin down Ladapo with yes-or-no questions about whether he believes vaccines and masks work against the coronavirus and other topics, but Ladapo was often met with lengthy responses.

“What I hear is arrogance and polite avoidance,” Democratic Senator Janet Cruz said. “So, if you don’t mind all this amiable rhetoric you’re using, can we just get direct answers so more people can hear more information.”

In one of the conversations, Democratic Senator Lauren Book repeatedly insisted on whether Ladapo thinks coronavirus vaccines are effective. Ladapo replied, “Yes or no questions are not easy to find in science.”

He continued: “The most commonly used vaccines in the United States, which are the Pfizer product and the Moderna product, have been shown to have relatively high efficacy in preventing hospitalization and death, and relatively low protection against infection over time,” said he.

In another conversation, Book questioned the chief surgeon if he regretted his decision. give up face mask during a meeting with a Democratic state MP in October who told him she had a serious medical problem and later diagnosed breast cancer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cancer patients are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and may not develop the same immunity to vaccines.

“In line with my approach to clinical care and my approach to health policy issues, I think it’s very important to respect people’s personal preferences, and I think that’s a general issue,” Ladapo said. “So it’s important to respect people’s preferences, and I think that when people’s preferences may differ, the goal should be to find a way that these people can achieve whatever outcome they want, in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable.”

After several more rounds of negotiations, Book told the committee that “we don’t feel like we’re getting any answers” and said the Democrats would leave the room refusing to vote to approve Ladapo.

After the strike, the Republicans, who control the committee, quickly voted to advance the Surgeon General’s approval. Ladapo must receive additional approval from the individual committee and the entire Senate before it is formally confirmed.

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