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Former Florida Governor Crist Critical Of New Surgeon General

Health News Florida
Charlie Crist

This week’s hiring of a new surgeon general by Gov. Ron DeSantis is stirring up controversy in regards to the COVID-19 siege in Florida — including from a former governor who wants his old job back.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo replaces Dr. Scott Rivkees, who has been out of view since April of last year, when he was pulled from a news conference after recommending social distancing until a vaccine became available.

“We’re going to have COVID in the environment; and this is a tough virus,” Rivkees said. “We’re going to have to practice these measures so that we are all protected. Based on what has been reported, probably a year, if not longer, is what some individuals have talked about.”

Both the governor and Ladapo appear to be kindred spirits when it comes to discouraging mask mandates, and in favor of individual choice. In a recent op-ed, Ladapo said it’s too late for an effective shutdown, and mandating vaccinations can’t stop COVID-19’s spread.

“We’re done with fear; that’s something that’s been, unfortunately, a centerpiece of health policy in the United States ever since the pandemic,” he said. “States should be promoting good health; and vaccination isn’t the only path to that. It’s been treated almost like a religion — and it’s just senseless.”

One of Ladapo’s first moves was changing the existing quarantine policy for students exposed at school. Kids will now be allowed to remain in the classroom, as long as they’re asymptomatic. After this week’s Cabinet meeting, Gov. DeSantis claimed that studies show about 90 % of students quarantined never got sick.

"Schools are not driving this epidemic; and we know that from last school year and we know it from this school year,” DeSantis said. “Because if they were, (if) we had schools coming in at the height of a wave, you would have seen that thing take off even more — and instead it’s plummeted.”

“Governor DeSantis and his new surgeon general care more about scoring partisan points, than they do about the fact that their reckless actions are endangering vulnerable children, their families, our teachers and frankly, our entire economy,” said U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a former GOP governor seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

During a Zoom call Thursday, he accused the DeSantis administration of effectively turning its back on Floridians.

“This governor does not care or even seem to understand that parents with children with disabilities cannot afford to take any sort of risk when it comes to the health of their immune-compromised children,” Crist said. “This governor does not care that teachers are being forced to go into work, and every day potentially risk their lives just to teach their students.”

Wednesday’s emergency rule change on student quarantine made by the new surgeon general – whom Crist calls the ‘anti-mask, vaccine skeptic,'” stands in direct and stark opposition to guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The CDC says to stay home and quarantine if you come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID,” said Crist. “And now the surgeon general of our state is telling parents that they don’t need to listen to the science — and they can send their kids to school if they feel like it, as long as their kids are asymptomatic. How can that possibly make sense?”

The former governor/current candidate for governor is joining a chorus of criticism, over Ladapo’s hiring.

“Dr. Ladapo has made it abundantly clear where he stands; he is not with parents, students, and [the] teachers of our state,” Crist said. “He’s with Gov. DeSantis, and has decided to help the governor lead the charge on a ‘soft-on-COVID’ approach that makes our communities less safe, and more prone to an outbreak.”

Ladapo begins work ahead of his required confirmation by the Florida Senate when it convenes in January. Given the Republican control of that body, confirmation appears to be a virtual lock.