Florida surgeon general refuses to meet with state senator who demanded that he wear a mask

"It is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can't do that when half of my face is covered," Florida's Surgeon General said.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

During a planned meeting between Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and state Senator Tina Polsky last week, Ladapo reportedly declined to wear a mask in her office, instead offering alternatives where they could speak without wearing masks.

Polsky told WPTV that Ladapo had asked to meet with her last week ahead of his Florida Senate confirmation hearing.

Polsky, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is preparing to undergo radiation treatment, said she "decided that the safest course of action for me to not catch any disease or COVID, in particular, is to make everyone mask up."

She noted that she has a sign on her door requesting that those who enter wear masks. "Everyone has respected my wishes, except for the surgeon general," she said.

"He says, 'I don't do interviews with the mask,' and I said, 'I can hear you perfectly fine,'" Polsky claimed Ladapo said. "And he said, 'Well, why don't we go outside?' I said, 'I am uncomfortable doing that.'"

Polsky noted that the conversation when back and forth for more than five minutes, like it was "some kind of negotiation."

"I asked him why he can't wear a mask," she said. "He didn't answer it. His attitude was, in my opinion, smug, and I think he was enjoying himself, especially based on the comment he made after he left the office that was overheard by my other aide outside in the hallway, that he was kind of pushing my buttons on purpose."

Ladapo issued a response on Twitter Tuesday, saying that a mask impedes with his ability to clearly communicate with people.

"I attempted in good faith to find some way for us to communicate that would respect each of our preferences," wrote Ladapo.

"Having a conversation with someone while wearing a mask is not something I find productive, especially when other options exist. It is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can't do that when half of my face is covered."

"I recommended an outdoor meeting to the Senator because of her concern about COVID-19 transmission, as the data clearly show that outdoor settings are much safer than indoor settings."

Ladapo noted that when Polsky refused the option of speaking outdoors, he offered numerous other alternatives, including him sitting out in the hall to speak with her.

"Unfortunately, she did not consider any of these options to be satisfactory," Ladapo reported.

"I am genuinely saddened by Senator Polsky's recent diagnosis of breast cancer, and I pray for her and her family and with the God's blessings and strength," he added.


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