Florida Surgeon Gen. Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo
© Associated Press
Florida Surgeon Gen. Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo looks on before a bill signing by Gov. Ron DeSantis in Brandon, Fla.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo called the idea that masks saved any lives during the covid-19 pandemic "a lie, and it needs to stop and people need to unbelieve it."

Ladapo, who runs the state Department of Health, also said the vast majority of the medical community that supports masks are "zombies."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic and numerous studies all have found that masks are effective in limiting transmission of the virus. Highly protective KN95 and N95 masks are now recommended by the CDC against the more infectious omicron variant.

Ladapo's comments at Gov. Ron DeSantis' news conference in Panama City came a day after DeSantis was widely criticized for telling high school students to take off their masks at a Tampa event.

The father of one of the students, Kevin Brown, told WFLA-TV Tampa, "I would tell (DeSantis) to stop bullying kids, adding that the governor had no right to tell his son to take off his mask.


On Thursday, Ladapo held up a cloth mask and said, to laughter, "It's hard to find these in Florida. You've got to look, you've got to work hard."

The surgeon general, who has been ostracized by colleagues and other scientists for his mask and covid vaccine skepticism, said studies cited by the CDC are "shaky studies" with "shaky methods."

People "are still holding up the illusion that these things save lives," Ladapo said.
"These things are not saving lives. ... What saves lives is immunity. Early treatment saves lives. And being as healthy as you can. Losing those extra pounds, eating a nutritious diet, keeping your vitamin D levels up, those things save lives."

DeSantis and Ladapo also tried to revive the Free Speech for Healthcare Practitioners Act that has stalled in the Legislature. The bill would allow doctors to speak freely without being sanctioned by "some bureaucrat" or "self-serving boards," according to Republicans on the Professions and Public Health Subcommittee.

A legislative analysis had found the bill could undermine the Health Department's authority to discipline doctors who make "misleading, deceptive, or fraudulent representations."
Jon Ward covid

Jon Ward, MD Board-Certified dermatologist, MOHS surgeon has spoken out against the heavy hand of medical boards against physicians who dissent from the Covid narrative
DeSantis praised "one of the engines behind this movement," dermatologist Jon Ward, who blasted certifying boards as the "political arms of the CDC and Big Pharma."

Ward gained notoriety last year when he had to apologize after calling on parents and students to lie about having had covid so they could "game the system" and not have to quarantine after contact with an infected person.

The bill was blasted by the national advocacy group The Committee to Protect Health Care.

DeSantis was "doubling down by giving everyone with a political agenda, including medical workers, a free pass to spread disinformation that threatens to put lives at risk," said Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami vascular cardiologist and the Florida State leader of the group.

"What Gov. DeSantis wants to do with House Bill 687 will throw this necessary standard of care out the window, and will allow a very small minority of bad-faith actors to erode the patient-physician relationship and ultimately put lives at risk," Ashby said. "Doctors, nurses and health care workers are trying to save lives, not score political points, as Gov. DeSantis is clearly trying to do."

DeSantis was not asked about what happened in Tampa on Wednesday when he pointed at high school students wearing masks and told them, "You do not have to wear those masks."

"Please take them off," he told the students, four of whom complied while three others kept them on. "Honestly, it's not doing anything. We've gotta stop with this covid theater. So if you wanna wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous."


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David Jolly, a political commentator and former Republican congressman from St. Petersburg turned independent, said it was ironic that "for somebody who thumps his chest about 'freedom,' his suggestion is people shouldn't have the freedom to wear masks. ... Students who are choosing to wear masks, that doesn't fit DeSantis' narrative of 'freedom.'"

Jolly added that DeSantis' comments in Tampa, as well as the anti-mask event Thursday, were "a fairly undisciplined move and probably a political mistake."

"It's proven worthwhile for him to preach about the freedom for people to make their own public health decisions. Masking, not masking, vaccines, no vaccines," Jolly added. "But this pivot in the last 72 hours is a change. You can say it's an attack on science, but frankly, it's an attack on Floridians who choose to believe the overwhelming consensus of the science."

As for Ladapo, "I think it's clear from the beginning DeSantis nominated a surgeon general who is out of step with mainstream science, and with the consensus around science," Jolly said. "The war on masks reflects that."

Via the Orlando Sentinel